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COVER: Near Tan My, combat photographer 
Cp/ Steven C. Lively records the takeoff of 
HMM-164 helicopters from the 9th Marine 
Brigade carrying the 4th VNMC Battalion 
into combat on 24 May 1912. 
Marine Corps Hisrorical Collection 





Major Charles D. Melson 
U.S. Marine Corps 


Lieutenant Colonel Curtis G. Arnold 
U.S. Marine Corps 



Volumes in the Marine Corps 
Vietnam Series 

Operational Histories Series 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1954-1964, The Advisory and Combat 

Assistance Era, 1977 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965, The landing and the Buildup, 1978 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, An Expanding War, 1982 

US. Marines in Vietnam, 1967, Fighting the North Vietnamese, 1984 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1969, High Mobility and Standdown, 1988 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1970-1971, Vietnamization and Redeployment, 1986 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1973-1975, The Bitter End, 1990 

In Preparation 

U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1968 

Functional Histories Series 

Chaplains with Marines in Vietnam, 1962-1971, 1985 
Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire, 1989 

Anthology and Bibliography 

The Marines in Vietnam, 1954-1973, An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography, 
1974, reprinted 1983; revised second edition, 1985 

Library of Congress Card No, 77-604776 
PCN 190 003112 00 


This is the eighth volume of a projected nine-volume history of Marine Corps operations 
in the Vietnam War. A separate functional series complements the operational histories. 
This volume details the activities of Marine Corps units after the departure from Vietnam 
in 1971 of III Marine Amphibious Force, through to the 1973 ceasefire, and includes the 
return of Marine prisoners of war from North Vietnam. Written from diverse views and 
sources, the common thread in this narrative is the continued resistance of the South 
Vietnamese Armed Forces, in particular the Vietnamese Marine Corps, to Communist 
aggression. This book is written from the perspective of the American Marines who assisted 
them in their efforts. Someday the former South Vietnamese Marines will be able to tell 
their own story. 

By July 1971, less than 500 U.S. Marines, mostly advisors, communicators, and sup- 
porting arms specialists remained in Vietnam. It was thought at the time that the success 
of "Vietnamization" of the war would lessen even this small number, as it was hoped 
that the South Vietnamese could continue fighting successfully. This hope vanished in 
spring 1972, dashed by a full-scale North Vietnamese Army invasion. The renewed com- 
bat saw the U.S. Marines return once more to Southeast Asia in a continuation of the 
war that now seemed to have no end. The fighting proceeded into the fall, and only 
ceased with the signing of peace accords in Paris in January 1973. 

The War That Would 'Not End 'is the product of a collaboration of two career Marines, 
who brought a total of 42 years of service experience to the project while assigned to the 
History and Museums Division of Headquarters Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Curtis 
G. Arnold began the task. A native Alabamian, Lieutenant Colonel Arnold enlisted in 
the Marine Corps in 1950 and served with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. Discharged 
in 1953, he remained in the Marine Reserve in inactive status while he attended Auburn 
University. Following graduation, Lieutenant Colonel Arnold was commissioned in Janu- 
ary 1958. He attended the Communication Officers Orientation Course at Quantico, Vir- 
ginia, and served as a communications officer for much of his career. He served in Vietnam 
with the 3d Marine Division from 1966 to 1967, receiving the Bronze Star Medal. He 
was aide to Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General Lewis W. Walt from 1968 
to 1969. He then attended Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico and 
remained there at the Marine Corps Schools as an instructor. He joined the History and 
Museums Division in 1973 and retired from the division and the Marine Corps in 1975. 
Lieutenant Colonel Arnold's efforts are reflected in the themes of Chapters 2 through 
9, based on interviews and then-available records. He played a critical part in the loca- 
tion and recovery of the Marine Advisory Unit records just prior to the fall of Saigon. 
Lieutenant Colonel Arnold also contributed to this project through his review of the com- 
ment edition and with further advice and encouragement until his untimely death in 1990. 

The project was completed by Major Charles D. Melson. From California, Major Melson 
entered the Marine Corps Reserve in 1967 and in 1970 both graduated from Sonoma State 
University and was commissioned. Following Basic School, he served overseas as an infantry 
officer with assignments to Vietnam in 1972 with the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade. 
He was awaiting orders to Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO, when the war ended in 1973- 
Major Melson spent a large portion of his career in combat and reconnaissance units in both 
Fleet Marine Forces Atlantic and Pacific. He has decorations for military merit, combat 
action, and humanitarian service. Beginning in 1982, he was as an instructor at the U.S. 

Naval Academy and earned a master of arts degree from St. John's College, Annapolis, 
Maryland. Major Melson subsequently was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, first 
to the Command Center and then, in 1986, to the History and Museums Division. Major 
Melson wrote the remaining eight chapters and shaped the volume into its final form. 
This included revising the Arnold manuscript to make use of much additional material. 
Major Melson left active service in 1990, but was recalled to active duty with the division, 
including duties with the U.S. Central Command during the Persian Gulf War. 

Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired) 
Director of Marine Corps History and Museums 



Ernest Hemingway wrote about war in A Farewell to Arms in 1929, contending that, 
"Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete 
names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments 
and the dates." For many reasons, this observation holds true for the narrative in this 
volume. The variety and scope of U.S. Marine participation in this phase of the war makes 
this an account of units and individuals as part of the activities of the other Services or 
of the South Vietnamese forces. This is reflected in the sources used to tell this story; 
both authors had to rely on diverse material for information. In fact, most events dis- 
cussed are drawn as exceptions from the normal process of records-keeping and availabil- 
ity: ad hoc units and mixed-service, or even multinational organizations were the norm. 
This suggested the use of commenters who could bring together otherwise dispersed records 
to support the volume. Interviews from recorded and transcribed and other oral formats 
were also especially valuable. A draft of this book was sent to key participants, 231 in- 
dividuals. Of these, 114 replied. They are listed in the appendix and referenced repeat- 
edly in the text. Most of this newly acquired material has been archived for use by Marines 
and other scholarly researchers. 

Military evolutions are the product of teamwork and this book is no exception. Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Arnold's chapters were reviewed by Dr. Graham A. Cosmas and Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Lane Rogers. The original narrative subsequently was reorganized by Major 
David N. Buckner, himself a former advisor in Vietnam. The narrative benefitted from 
the transcription of advisor debriefs undertaken by Colonel Gerald H. Turley with fund- 
ing by the Marine Corps Historical Foundation. He was assisted in this by Major Edward 
F. Wells, representing the History and Museums Division. Major Wells and Major Frank 
M. Batha, Jr., conducted additional inquiry to support the manuscript. Major Melson's 
work was carefully reviewed by his peers: Dr. V. Keith Fleming, Jr., Major George R. Dun- 
ham, Major Arthur F. Ehy, Major Leonard A. Blasiol, and Lieutenant Colonel Gary D. 
Solis. Their help went beyond the call of duty and reflected the Historical Branch's col- 
legial approach to writing. 

Appreciation also is due the able Editing and Design Section of Mr. Robert E. Struder, 
the senior editor: to Mr. William S. Hill for artwork and layout and to Mrs. Catherine 
A. Kerns for editorial and composition services. They were essential in the volume's final 
form and style. Further thanks are to be given the interns from The Madeira School who 
assisted with the project: Ms. Soudarak S. Luangkhot for her efforts with the command 
and staff lists and Ms. Jaime Koepsell and Ms. Sylvia Bunyasi for their enterprise with 
the appendices. Mr. David A. Melson is gratefully recognized for his help with aircraft 
identification and nomenclature. 

Special thanks are offered for the managing supervision of the involved Depury Direc- 
tors for Marine Corps History: Colonel James R. Williams, Colonel Marguerite J. Camp- 
bell, and Colonel Daniel M. Smith. They were ably supported in providing direction 
by the efforts of succeeding chief historians: Mr. Henry I. Shaw, Jr., and Benis M. Frank. 
The project also was enhanced by the day-to-day tutelage of the senior Vietnam histori- 
an, Dr. Jack Shulimson. The authors were especially dependent upon all manner of materi- 
als from Mr. Danny J. Crawford's Reference Section, Mrs. Meredith P. Hartley's Oral History 
Section, Ms. Evelyn A. Englander's Library Section, and Ms. Joyce M. Conyers and Ser- 
geant Kevin L. Parker's Archives Section. Their contributions are most gratefully ac- 

knowledged. Last but not least, both authors have long wished to formally recognize the 
enlisted Marines who are the often unrecognized backbone of the History and Museums 

Both authors are indebted to their colleagues in the historical agencies of the Army, 
Navy, Air Force, and Joints Chiefs of Staff, all of whom provided information and opin- 
ion, and made documentation available for analysis. Thanks are extended to all those 
who reviewed the various editions and provided comments, corrections, and insights only 
available from those who took part in the events described. Finally, however, it is the authors 
alone who are responsible for the content of this history, including any errors in fact or 


Table of Contents 

Foreword iii 

Preface v 

Table of Contents vii 

List of Maps and Charts xi 


Chapter 1 From the Delta to the DMZ 2 

Nixon's Doctrine 2 

Contingency Forces 2 

Flexibility and Response 6 

Command Relations 7 

Residual Forces 9 

Marine Security Guard, Saigon 10 

The Marine Air Control Squadron Detachment 11 

Sub Unit One, 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company 11 

Chapter 2 The Advisors 19 

Naval Advisory Group, Naval Advisory Units 19 

The Rung Sat Special Zone 19 

The Mekong Delta Tactical Zone 21 

'Trusted Friends' 25 

Winding Down 27 

Along the DMZ 30 


Chapter 3 The Ring of Steel 36 

Turley with Team 155 36 

The Opening Round 37 

Team 155 Under Fire 37 

The Outposts Fall 42 

At the Combat Base at Ai Tu 42 

VNMC Brigade 258 Reinforces 43 

Enemy in the Wire, 31 March 1972 43 

Fire Support Base Sarge Holds On 45 

The Collapse of the Ring of Steel 47 

Chapter 4 The Defense of Dong Ha 50 

The Easter Sunday Crisis 50 

The Dong Ha Bridge 50 

Action at the Bridge 57 

Reaction at Saigon 58 

Camp Carroll Surrenders 58 

Mai Loc Exposed 60 

The Dong Ha Bridge Destroyed 60 

Callsign BAT-21 61 

Mai Loc Evacuated 63 


Chapter 5 Battered Quang Tri Holds 64 

The Fighting Continues 64 

At Dong Ha 65 

Developments in the West 66 

The Fight for Pedro 68 

Bright Lights 71 

The NVA Mount a Third Attack in MR 1 72 

Chapter 6 Exodus from Quang Tri 76 

Drive from the West 76 

Confusion at Quang Tri 80 

Team 155 and General Giai Depart 81 

VNMC Brigade 147 on its Own 84 


Chapter 7 The Defense of Hue City 90 

Holding the My Chanh Line 90 

Fleet Marine Force Support 90 

Truong Takes Charge 92 

The Vietnamese Marine Division 92 

The Marines Attack 94 

The North Vietnamese React 97 

Operation Song Than 6-72 98 

In the Balance 103 

Chapter 8 Quang Tri City Regained 106 

Truong's Counteroffensive 106 

The Battle of Quang Tri City 112 

Taking the Citadel 121 

The Final Assault 123 

Chapter 9 Returning North 127 

Consolidation 127 

Push to the North 128 

Reorganization 130 

The Eleventh Hour 130 

Ceasefire 135 


Chapter 10 A Tract of Time 138 

9th MAB and the Naval Campaign 138 

Support to the Fleet 140 

Evacuations 142 

Search and Rescue 143 

NGF Airborne Spotters, Fast and Slow 145 

Raids and Demonstrations 145 

Redeyes at Sea 147 

Support to Military Region 1 148 

Fleet Support Continues 149 

Across the Beach: The Lam Son Landings 149 

Turnaway at Quang Tri 151 


Chapter 11 Any Time, Any Place 153 

The Storm Breaks — Marine Air Responds 153 

Support to the Air Force, MAG-15 Operations 153 

Support to the Air Force, MAG-12 Operations 159 

Task Force Delta 164 

The Rose Garden Grows 168 

Chapter 12 On Yankee Station 174 

Support to the Navy: Task Force 77 174 

All-Weather Attack 174 

More Support to the Navy— VMCJ 177 

Snakes at Sea 178 

Fighters over the North 181 

Chapter 13 Other Marine Activities 185 

Leadership, Morale, and Readiness 185 

Beans, Bullets, and AvGas: Logistics 190 

Thunder from the Sea, Fire from the Sky 195 

War in the Ether 199 


Chapter 14 Ceasefire and Consolidation 204 

The Final Act 204 

Operation Countdown 'On the Land 206 

Operation Countdown '. . . and Sea' 210 

Operation Countdown '. . . and Air' 213 

Chapter 15 In Enemy Hands 217 

Combatants or Hostages? 217 

Egress Recap and Other Contingencies 223 

Operation Homecoming 225 

Welcome Home Marine 229 

Code of Conduct 233 

MIAs: The Joint Casualty Resolution Center 234 

Chapter 16 Continuity and Change 236 

Operation End Sweep 236 

Task Force Delta, The Tigers Depart 244 

To What End? 248 

NOTES 251 


A. Command and Staff List, Marine Advisory Unit 265 

B. Command and Staff List, Marine Ground Units 267 

C. Command and Staff List, Marine Air Units 270 

D. Operation Homecoming 272 

E. Vietnamese Marine Corps, January 1972 - January 1973 275 

F. Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations 277 

G. Chronology of Significant Events, 1971-1973 284 

H. Medal of Honor and Navy Cross Citations 1971-1973 288 

I. FMF Pacific Command Relationships, 1971 292 

J. USMACV Command Relationships, 1971 293 


K.Vietnamese Marine Division, 1972 294 

L. List of Reviewers 295 

M. Distribution of Personnel FMFPac, May 1972 297 

INDEX 303 


Maps and Charts 

Map, Mainland Southeast Asia 3 

Map, Western Pacific 5 

Map, Marines in South Vietnam, July 1971-February 1972 8 

Chart, Marine Advisory Unit, 1972 25 

Map, South Vietnamese Defenses in Northern MR 1, January-March 1972 29 

Map, North Vietnamese Invasion of South Vietnam, 1972 39 

Map, Initial Deployment of North and South Vietnamese Forces, 

30 March 1 April 1972 41 

Map, The Defense of Dong Ha, 2-4 April 1972 51 

Map, The Defense of Quang Tri City, 22-29 April 1972 77 

Map, The Defense of Hue City, 2-25 May 1972 91 

Chart, Sub Unit One, 1st ANGIICO Deployments, Fall 1972 107 

Map, The lam Son Counteroffensive, 8 June-11 July 1972 109 

Map, The Quang Tri City Battles, 22 July-l6 September 1972 115 

Map, Final Deployment of Forces, 17 September 1972-30 January 1973 132 

Map, 9th MAB Operations, March- September 1972 139 

Map, Marine Air Operations, 1972-1973 154 

Map, Southeast Asia Air Tactical Zones, 1971-1973 156 

Chart, Task Force Delta Command Relationships 169 

Map, Yankee Station and the Laotian Panhandle 175 

Chart, III MAF Amphibious Assault Force Buildup in 1972 191 

Chart, III MAF Aviation Force Buildup in 1972 193 

Chart, VNMC Division Supporting Arms Schedule for 11 July 1972 Assault 198 

Map, Communist Controlled Areas of South Vietnam, 1973 205 

Map, Prisoner of War Camps in North Vietnam 220 

Chart, Homecoming Reception Sequence 224 

Chart, Operation End Sweep— Task Force 78 Organization 237 

Map, End Sweep Operations, 1973 241 



From the Delta to the DM2 

Nixon's Doctrine — Contingency Forces — Flexibility and Response — Command Relations 
Residual Forces — Marine Security Guard, Saigon— The Marine Air Control Squadron Detachment 
Sub Unit One, 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company 

Nixon's Doctrine 

For over a decade, decisions by three presidents 
transformed America's role in South Vietnam. Reach- 
ing a maximum troop-level of 549,000 during 1969, 
the U.S. Armed Farces found themselves involved in 
a long and unpopular war. With the Nixon Doctrine 
of July 1969, however, the U.S. began its essential dis- 
engagement from Vietnam. The United States would 
meet its treaty commitments, but expected South 
Vietnam to assume the greater portion of its own 
defense through "Vietnamization." 1 

By July 1971, Marines in the Pacific Command (Pac- 
Com) had once again become a combat force-in- 
readiness, leaving behind in Vietnam only residual 
forces. General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., Commandant 
of the Marine Corps (CMC), observed that the Ma- 
rine Corps during this period witnessed "the emer- 
gence of new forms of force, some overt, some more 
difficult to recognize or define, and fewer purely mili- 
tary in character than befote." He went on to conclude 
that properly balanced and properly deployed am- 
phibious forces provided "an effective means — and at 
times the only means — of exerting influence on situ- 
ations where our interests are involved." 2 

Yet for Marines stationed in the Western Pacific 
(WestPac), Vietnam was a war that would not end. A 
war whose continued prosecution was carried on 
throughout Vietnam and Southeast Asia, from the Pa- 
cific and even from the continental United States of 
America. Although officially the "Ceasefire Cam- 
paign," this period is better known for the central event 
of the time, the Spring or Easter Offensive in South 
Vietnam. 3 

Contingency Forces 

With Marine Corps strength in Vietnam limited to 
a few hundred, the III Marine Amphibious Force (III 
MAF) in the Western Pacific reverted to a responsive 
posture with the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet. Marines 
served in detachments on board carriers, cruisers, and 
command ships. With the exception of these ships' 
detachments, Marine units made up the fleet landing 
force. 4 The usefulness of deployed landing forces had 
been apparent since Marines first went on board ships. 

During the Vietnam war these forces consisted typi- 
cally of a battalion landing team (BLT) supported by 
a composite helicopter squadron, forming a basic air- 
ground team. Seventh Fleet's landing force, called the 
Special Landing Force or SLF, made 72 amphibious 
landings in Vietnam through 1969. The Seventh Fleet 
assigned the SLF mission to the 3d Marine Division 
on Okinawa in late 1969- The 4th and 9th Marines 
provided battalions and Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 
36 sent medium helicopter squadrons (HMMs) to serve 
with the fleet amphibious forces* Navy amphibious 
squadrons were administrative organizations while the 
amphibious ready group (ARG) was the specific or- 
ganization tasked for a particular mission.** The am- 
phibious ready groups deployed in two independent 
configurations. ARG Alpha was organized around a 
helicopter carrier. ARG Bravo centered on an amphibi- 
ous ttanspott dock. Anothet BLT remained on Okina- 
wa as the air-transportable contingency battalion. 5 

After 21 November 1970, the SLF name was 
changed to Marine amphibious unit (MAU) and 
Headquarters, 31st Marine Amphibious Unit deployed 
continuously with Amphibious Ready Group Al- 
pha.*** As amphibious ready groups were the build- 
ing blocks of the Navy's amphibious forces, the MAU 
was the foundation of the landing force. Command- 
ed by a colonel, this was a standing headquarters which 
provided command, control, and continuity for 
ground and air units which deployed in rotation. For 
the 3lst MAU, the war did not cease with III MAF's 
departure from Vietnam in April 1971. The MAU was 
kept within a 120-hour travel time of Military Region 
(MR) 1 and BLT Bravo was no more than 168 hours 
away from commitment to operations in MR 1. In May 
and June 1971, the 3 1st MAU with BLT 1/9 and 

*A composite squadron generally consisted of 4 heavy-cargo lift 
CH-53As, 14 personnel lift CH-46Ds, and 4 utility UH-lEs. 

**An amphibious squadron typically consisted of an amphibi- 
ous assault ship (LPH), two amphibious transport docks (LPD), two 
landing dock ships (LSD), two or three tank landing ships (LST), 
and an amphibious cargo ship (LKA). 

***The terms SLF and Special Landing Force continued to be 
used informally, As of 1989, the MAU was changed to MEU for Ma- 
rine Expeditionary Unit, a return to a more traditional designa- 
tion for deployed Marine forces. 





Nam Tha 







SamNeua^ Hanoj . 
Province • 

Plain of ^ 

Luang Jars tp^/' 

) ^ j./N^Vjjntiane *\ 




Ho\ , 
Chi Minh 




Nam Phong 


Tchepone i 

/ Trail jV \ 


Chi Minh 
Trail f 


^l»Da Nang 

t Bangkok 








I ? >^ Trail £ * 

x '^,.Voun { k South 
Khom \vietnam 

Sambor Chi Minh 
Rapids Trail 


Trang* ' 

Phan Thiet 

China Sea 


Cape Ca Mau 

Mainland Southeast Asia 

kilometers l. 




Adapted from Naval Historical Center Material 



Deparrment of Defense Photo (USN) K98639 
The instrument of forward deployment was the Marine landing forces and the amphibi- 
ous ready groups of the Seventh Fleet, represented here by an amphibious assault ship 
(LPH) and two amphibious transports (LPDs) underway in the Western Pacific in the 1970s. 

HMM-164 was on 72-hour standby in support of the 
dcpartute from Da Nang of the 3d Marine Amphibi- 
ous Brigade, the last major Marine combat unit re- 
maining in Vietnam. 

By July 197 1, freed from direct operations in Viet- 
nam, III MAFwas the Pacific Command's immediate 
reserve. Lieutenant General Donn J. Robertson, as III 
MAF commander, had operational control of the 3d 
Marine Division (3d MatDiv), the 1st Marine Aircraft 
Wing (1st MAW), and the 3d Force Service Regiment 
(3d FSR). Ill MAF was now a regional force with theat- 
er concerns ranging from Vietnam to the Philippines 
and Korea, concerns corresponding with the Seventh 
Fleet area of operations. As crises occurred, the Ma- 
rine units afloat were among the first U.S. tactical units 
to respond. Regional responsibilities brought new 
problems and concerns to General Robertson. One is- 
sue was the reduction of Pacific Fleet amphibious ship- 
ping from six to four squadrons during the year, 
severely constraining the ability of the Seventh Fleet 
to commit amphibious forces. 6 

The 31st MAU served as the forward element of a 
Matine amphibious brigade (MAB), based on General 
Robertson's conclusion that the MAB was the size of 
force that available Seventh Fleet transport could move. 
Existing contingency plans reflected incremental 
deployment as shipping became available. General 
Robertson's staff planned fot at least one additional 
battalion landing team to be flown into an objective 
area to reinforce a deployed brigade. The III MAF 
planners assumed that additional Marine units could 

mount out within two weeks if suppotted by the 
Eastern Pacific amphibious ready squadron. Within 
another two weeks the arrival of two additional am- 
phibious squadrons could double the available ship- 
ping for amphibious operations. 7 When not on board 
ship for contingencies, exercises, and port visits, Ma- 
rine units trained ashote at III MAF's "MAU Camp" in 
the Philippines, using the nearby Subic Bay and Zam- 
bales training areas* Upon joining a new Marine bat- 
talion and squadron, the ARG and MAU conducted 
amphibious landing exetcises to rehearse and validate 
operation and landing plans. At the same time port 
calls to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan 
caused deployments to take on aspects of pleasure 

In August 1971, Fleet Matine Force Pacific (FMFPac) 
established a table of organization for a Western Pa- 
cific "ready" brigade. The following month, the 9th 
MAB formed a cadre staff from personnel of the three 
Okinawa-based Marine commands to plan and prepare 
for a scheduled exercise, Golden Dragon II, with Rear 
Admiral Walter D. Gaddis's Task Force 76. This 
nucleus staff embarked on the task force's flagship, the 
USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). That fall BLT Bravo (BLT 
1/9) deployed to Camp Fuji, Japan, while the 31st Ma- 
rine Amphibious Unit with BLT 2/4 and HMM-165 
on the USS Tripoli (LPH 10) remained at sea or at Su- 
bic Bay with Amphibious Ready Group Alpha. 

War between India and Pakistan broke out during 

*The presence of Philippine securiry forces and Communist New 
People's Army units made these training areas literally live-fire areas. 



Adapted from Naval Historical Center Material 


Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A26566 
The senior Marine in the Pacific through the end of 
1972 was LtGen William K. Jones, commanding Fleet 
Marine Force Pacific. He oversaw the Marine Corps 
standdown and withdrawal from South Vietnam. 

this period. Vice Admiral William P. Mack of the 
Seventh Fleet assigned the 31st M AU to Task Force 74 
for the evacuation of Americans threatened by the 
fighting in Pakistan. The MAU interrupted its prepa- 
rations for Exercise Fortress Light II in the Philippines 
and the ARG proceeded towards the crisis area. It was 
replaced in December 1971 by the provisional 331st 
Marine Amphibious Element of Major Raymond M. 
Kostesky, known as "Ray's MAE" at III MAF. This con- 
sisted of a headquarters, rifle company, and helicop- 
rer detachment all on board the USS Denver (LPD 
9). The India-Pakistan emergency required combined 
Marine and Navy staffs to develop planning data for 
the air deployment of company-sized to brigade-sized 
units to assist in the evacuations of U.S. civilians and 
foreign narionals when requested. This planning ef- 
fort provided the basis for III MAF evacuation con- 
tingencies the following year. 8 

Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., CinCPac, declared the 
crisis resolved on 7 January 1972 and the 9th MAB 
nucleus staff resumed planning for Exercise Golden 
Dragon. Lieutenant General William K. Jones, as FMF 
Pacific commander, drew three observations from the 


crisis: first, the separation of individual ready group 
ships for more than 30 days reduced Marine readiness 
to carry out the mission of amphibious assault by frag- 
menting the 31st MAU; second, Marines had ro sup- 
plement ships 1 crews because Navy manning levels did 
not account for 24-hour combat operations, and fi- 
nally an increased use of "special category"* message 
traffic reduced the flow of necessary information need- 
ed for effective planning. These observations proved 
valuable in the months to come as amphibious forces 
returned to Vietnam. 9 

The 1972 New Year, the Year of the Rat in the Tet 
calendar, began with Lieutenant Colonel William R. 
Von Harten's BLT 3/4 assuming duties with the 31st 
MAU, now under Colonel Walter C. Kelly, and Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Phillip B. Friedrichs' BLT 1/9 continu- 
ing as BLT Bravo. In another change, Lieutenant 
General Louis Metzger relieved III MAF commander 
General Robertson.** In March 1972 BLT 1/9 loaded 
ARG Bravo ships at White Beach, Okinawa, for the 
crisis-delayed Exercise Golden Dragon II, by way of 
port visits to Hong Kong and the Philippines. At this 
same time the assistant commander of the 3d Marine 
Division, Brigadier General Edward J. "E.J." Miller, 
joined the staff on the Blue Ridge as brigade com- 
mander for the exercise. 

Flexibility and Response 

During the last half of 1971, the main activity of 
III MAF aviation units in Southeast Asia was duty at 
sea with the Seventh Fleet amphibious groups. Ma- 
rine Medium Helicopter Squadrons 164 and 165 ro- 
tated in turn to the 3lst MAU as "composite" 
squadrons; the BLT with ARG Bravo was supported 
by a detachment from Marine Light Helicopter Squa- 
dron (HML) 367. 

In Vietnam, a detachment of air controllers from 
1st MAW remained at Da Nang. Another "in- 
country"*** aviation activity was the combat evalua- 
tion of the North American Rockwell YOV-10D Bronco 
gunship, for which a detachment of two aircraft and 
21 Marines flew with the US. Navy's Light Attack 
Squadron (VAL) 4 at Binh Thuy.**** The modified 
OV-lOs mounted a 20mm gun and an infrared sight, 
the night observation gunship system (NOGS). The 
Marines flew 200 combat missions denying the cover 

*This message traffic was usually highly controlled and thus un- 
available to most who needed the information. 

**FII MAF remained a lieutenant general billet through 1972. 
***Term referring to the geographic confines of South Vietnam. 
"""•Deployed from 1 June 1971. 


Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800352 
The commander of the III Marine Amphibious Force 
during the reaction to the Spring Offensive was LtCen 
Louis Me tzger. The former 3d Marine Division com- 
mander was responsible for the Marine air, ground, 
and logistic forces used in the Western Pacific. 

of darkness to the Communists in MR 3 and MR 4. 
By 31 August 1971, with the testing completed, the 
Marines departed. As a result of the evaluation, Lieu- 
tenant General William K. Jones recommended adop- 
tion of the OV-10D by the Marine Corps. 10 

Strict Department of Defense limits on the entry 
of combat aircraft and personnel into Vietnam limit- 
ed the 1st MAW during 1971 largely to its CinCPac 
strategic reserve mission. For the air units stationed 
in Japan and Okinawa this brought an emphasis on 
reconstructing material stocks eroded over the years 
of combat and filling training gaps which had deve- 
loped because of the demands of operations. In De- 
cember 1971, the USS Coral Sea (CVA 43) arrived for 
a Western Pacific cruise with Marine All-Weather At- 
tack Squadron (VMA[AW]) 224 attached to the car- 
rier air wing, and provided an added capability. The 
character of Marine air deployments remained stable 
through the first three months of 1972. 

Command Relations 

Seventh Fleet, Seventh Air Force, and the remain- 
ing advisory, administrative, and logistical units with 


Military Advisory Command Vietnam Photo 
The commander of American forces in South Vietnam 
through the middle of 1972 was Gen Creighton W. 
Abrams, USA. Complex command relations in sup- 
port of the South Vietnamese resulted in a coalition. 

the Military Advisory Command Vietnam (MACV) 
continued to support the South Vietnamese in their 
war against the North Vietnamese. The Seventh Fleet 
provided strategic deterrence and sea control. In ac- 
cordance with Washington's policy, senior American 
commanders in the Pacific increased the logistic and 
combat support to South Vietnam, but at the same 
time continued to withdraw American troops from the 
embattled nation." 

Command relations varied depending upon the mix 
of forces * Operations at sea were under the control 
of the Seventh and Pacific Fleets. For operations in 
South Vietnam, MACV, as a subordinate of CinCPac, 
exercised control of units through regional assistance 
commands. The 1st Regional Assistance Command 
(FRAC) was assigned to MR 1. Seventh Air Force's com- 
manding general controlled air operations in South 
Vietnam as MACV's deputy for air. In contrast, air 
operations over North Vietnam were controlled by 
either Seventh Fleet or Seventh Air Force under CinC- 
Pac. For the redeploying Marine units this meant 

*This was complicated by an "advisory'' command operating in 
support of the Government of South Vietnam. 



VNMC — Vietnamese Marine Corps 
and Advisors 

SU1 — Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO 
MACS-4 Oet — Marine Air Control 

Squadron 4 Detachment 
MR — Military Region 
HQ — Headquarters 
MSG — Marine Security Guard 
RSSZ — Rung Sat 

Special Zone 

MDTZ — Mekong Delta 
Tactical Zone 


Hon Co 

-omz — -VNMC 

Tchepane ■ 

°~^^ g Tn SU1 $0UTH CHjNA 
^Y. ,SU1 

- Da Nang^f — MACS-4 Det 

Hoi A 

wm. i 



• Chavane 

■ Attapu 

> Siem Pang 

Chu Laiv*r 

Quang Ngai 


. Dak To 

• Kontum 

. Pleiku 

Qui Nhon» 

Phnom Penh 


• Loc Ninh 
•An Loc 

• Tay Ninh 

f Svay Rieng 

jTan Chau 

\Cao Lanh 


■ Rach Gia 

My Tho 

Jan Tho 

MS fi 


• Bien Hoa 
O Saigon 

\^Vung Tau 



Da Lat- 

Tuy Hoa. 

Nha Trangf, 

'Phan Thiet 




Quan Long ^ 
(Ca Mau] , 


Marines in South Vietnam 
July 1971-February 1972 


25 50 75 



defining operational control ("opcon") and adminis- 
trative control ("adcon") depending upon where they 
were and for whom they worked. Complex command 
relations required that the greatest attention be paid 
to coordination at the tactical level (see appendices). 
General Metzger commented that most, if not all, 
major deployments and actions during this period 
originated from the Joint Chiefs of Staff passed 
through the chain of command to the "action agen- 
cy," III MAF, and that FMFPac "could only serve as an 
advisor" to CinCPac and Pacific Fleet to "sell" a specific 
course of action. 12 

Residual Forces 

In South Vietnam, Keystone Oriole Alpha, the 
seventh increment of President Nixon's phased with- 
drawal program, was completed on 30 June 1971, 
marking, for the time being, the end of the U.S. Ma- 
rine ground units' active combat role in the Vietnam 
War. However, as the sun rose over the South China 
Sea on the morning of 1 July 1971, United States Ma- 
rines were still to be found, nevertheless, throughout 
the length and breadth of the Republic of Vietnam. 
These Marines were charged with diverse roles and mis- 
sions. Some were combat-experienced advisors, others 

possessed detailed technical knowledge, a few had 
broad training in computer communications and data 
theory, but they all had one common denominator — 
they were U.S. Marines. 

Not since March 1963, when they had numbered 
532, had there been so few Marines in-country. The 
largest group, with a total of 195 Marines, was Sub 
Unit One, 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Compa- 
ny (ANGLICO) with Lieutenant Colonel Eugene E. 
Shoults as officer-in-charge. The next larger group was 
comprised of the Marines who guarded the American 
Embassy in Saigon and the Consulate in Da Nang. 
These were the 156 men of Company E, Marine Secu- 
rity Guard Battalion (MSG). The Marine Advisory 
Unit of the Naval Advisory Group was the third lar- 
gest in size with 68 Marines serving as advisors to the 
Vietnamese Marine Corps (VNMC). The smallest unit 
was the 20-man detachment of Marine Air Control 
Squadron (MACS) 4, 1st MAW, which had remained 
behind at Da Nang to operate the Marine Tactical 
Data Control Center known as the Southeast Asia Tac- 
tical Data System Interface (SEATDSI). The remain- 
ing 107 or so Marines were assigned duties as advisors 
to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the 

Vietnamese Navy (VNN), the Territorial Forces, and 
Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, second from the left, was the senior American official in 
South Vietnam- He is pictured in Saigon at the change of command for Company E : 
Marine Security Guard Battalion. Maj Edward J. Land, Jr., is on his left. Other Marines 
present for the ceremony were from the MACV staff and Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO. 

Photo courtesy of ItCol George E. Jones, USMC (Ret) 



as members of the Military Assistance Command, 
Vietnam staff. 13 

Marine Security Guard, Saigon 

In a less dramatic, but no less meaningful role than 
the fleet or advisory units, was the special mission be- 
ing carried out by the Marine Security Guard (MSG) at 
Saigon and by the detachment at Da Nang. Five of- 
ficers and 151 enlisted Marines guarded the U.S. Em- 
bassy in Saigon and the U.S. Consulate at Da Nang. 
Their primary mission was to "provide protection for 
all classified material and equipment and other ad- 
ministratively controlled matters at the Department 
of State's Foreign Service Establishments." In addition, 
these Marines were "to provide protection for U.S. per- 
sonnel and Government property under the direct con- 
trol of the Chief of Diplomatic Mission." Because of 
the large size of the Vietnam security guard, it was 
designated Company E of the Marine Security Guard 
Battalion. 14 

All Marines on State Department duty in Vietnam 
had successfully completed the necessary training and 
had met the stringent qualifications required while 
undergoing the five-week academic and physical train- 
ing course at the Marine Security Guard School at 
Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. They had 
received training in subjects ranging from protocol to 
counterespionage. Qualification with a new series of 
small arms was mandatory since Marine Corps-issued 
weapons were not used in embassies. A joint board 
of both State Department and MSG Battalion person- 
nel had the final word as to whether a Marine was ac- 
cepted for embassy or consulate duty. One out of four 
trainees was eliminated. The tough school was neces- 
sary for the demanding subsequent assignment of 
security guard Marines to one of 117 embassies and 
consulates located in 96 countries. 

The Marines of Company E did not restrict them- 
selves exclusively to security tasks. As much as the po- 
litical and military situation would allow, they formed 
a viable bond of comradeship with the Vietnamese 
people, particularly the children, in and around "The 
Marine House"* compound near the ambassador's 
residence. They had "adopted" the children at Hoa 
Khan Hospital, as well as the orphans at Hoi Due Anh. 

On 3 July 1971, Dr. Henry Kissinger, special advi- 
sor to President Nixon, arrived at Saigon to confer with 
U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, South Vietnam's 
President Nguyen Van Thieu, and other U S- embassy 
and military dignitaries. The MSG Marines performed 

♦Generic name for the lodging for MSG Marines in Company E. 

a myriad of chores related to providing security for Dr. 
Kissinger. That same month, on 13 July, an electrical 
fire developed in offices of the United States Agency 
for International Development (USAID) in Saigon, 
trapping mission employees on the fifth through ninth 
floors. Seventy-five Marines, both officers and enlist- 
ed men, responded to USAID's call for assistance. The 
Marines entered the building, located the trapped em- 
ployees, and guided them to safety. Time and again 
the embassy Marines entered to make certain all per- 
sons were clear of the building and that all classified 
material was secured. After ascertaining these two 
facts, the Marines turned their full efforts toward fight- 
ing the fire. Their quick response prevented the fire 
from spreading beyond the fourth floor. 

The political and military situation in Saigon dur- 
ing the last half of the year had become tense as the 
date for national elections neared. Routinely sched- 
uled training was cancelled during this period of un- 
predictable activity, not only by the enemy but also 
by the diverse factions within the city of Saigon. In 
the month of August, the city of Saigon was on full 
alert as citizens went to the polls to elect their represen- 
tatives to the Republic of Vietnam's lower house. On 
26 September 1971, Sergeant Charles W. Turberville 
was killed and four other Marines wounded during a 
terrorist attack on U.S. Embassy personnel in Phnom 
Penh, Cambodia. This necessitated the transfer of five 
Marines from Company E, under Master Sergeant 
Clenton L. Jones, to Phnom Penh to reinforce the em- 
bassy guard there. 15 

On 28 October 1971, a new commanding officer, 
Major Edward J. Land, reported to Company E, reliev- 
ing Captain William E. Keller. Major Land, a native 
of Nebraska with an easy-going, midwestern manner, 
had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1953 at the age 
of 17. Before being commissioned in 1959 he served 
as a drill instructor for two years in San Diego and was 
a distinguished marksman with both rifle and pistol. 
His first tour in South Vietnam had been spent with 
the 1st Marine Division at Da Nang as officer-in-charge 
of a scout-sniper platoon. Major Land faced some of 
the biggest challenges of his Marine Corps career as 
he took charge. During the fall, the Company's 
"Scramble Reaction Team," designed to meet any kind 
of emergency, responded to 140 bomb threats and 29 
bomb detonations, as approximately 122 enemy rock- 
ets fell within Company E's area ' 9 On Christmas Day 
1971, a Communist terrorist threw a M26 fragmenta- 
tion grenade into the Marine House compound in Sai- 
gon, injuring Sergeant Michael L. Linnan and Salay 



Mag, a local security guard. While the Security Guard 
detachment continued its mission, other Marine units 
were more directly involved in the continued conduct 
of the war. 

The Marine Air Control Squadron Detachment 

The smallest and most concentrated unit of U S- 
Marines in South Vietnam was a detachment on top 
of "Monkey Mountain" on the Tien Sha Peninsula 
northeast of Da Nang. The 20-man detachment of 
Chief Warrant Officer Guy M. Howard was from Ma- 
rine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 4, 1st MAW. Its 
job was to operate and maintain the Southeast Asia 
Tactical Data System Interface (SEATDSI) and had 
stayed behind when the air wing departed Vietnam. 
These Marines were operators and technical specialists 
of the Marine Tactical Data Communications Center 
(TDCC), a component of the Marine Air Command 
and Control System which was originally known as the 
Marine Tactical Data System (MTDS). 

Developed by an exclusively Marine Corps research 
and development effort, MTDS was meant specifical- 
ly for amphibious warfare and to be compatible with 
the systems of the other services as well as the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) system. It was 
designed to be "an advanced, mobile, land-based, 
semi-automatic tactical air defense and air control 
capability." The system made full use of computers in- 
tegrated with a display system to process volumes of 
information rapidly. It was a case of space-age tech- 
nology being used in a "brush fire war." 

This system, which was operational in South Viet- 
nam in July 1967, enabled the squadron to establish 
a data-quality interface with units of the Seventh Fleet. 
This was the first combat employment of such a sys- 
tem and allowed the integration of MTDS with the 
Navy's shipboard and airborne tactical data systems 
(NTDS and ATDS). Shortly after being established 
on Monkey Mountain, the TDCC was expanded to 
provide assistance for all American as well as allied 

In December 1971, CinCPac approved the deploy- 
ment to Udorn, Thailand, of an Air Force unit that 
would provide an air-to-ground digital link capabili- 
ty as well as ground terminal equipment that could 
be integrated with the Marine SEATDSI at Da Nang. 
This vital data link and interface also automatically 
transmitted radar surveillance provided by Air Force 
and Navy elements operating over the Gulf of Tonkin 
and North Vietnam. The information then was trans- 
mitted instantly to the Task Force 77 Anti-Air Warfare 

Coordinator and the Air Force Air Defense Com- 
mander. The SEATDSI also was used to rendezvous, 
refuel, and monitor air strikes over North Vietnam and 
to provide the vital coordination between naval gun- 
fire missions and air strikes that were being conduct- 
ed near each other. 

Because of the special capability of the Marine 
TDCC to understand clearly data messages from both 
the Air Force and Navy data systems, it was impera- 
tive that a detachment of Marines remain in Vietnam 
to continue Co provide an interface between the in- 
compatible Air Force and Navy systems. All three sys- 
tems were used to monitor the location and disposition 
of friendly air and to detect, identify, and direct in- 
tercept efforts against the hostile air threat which still 
prevailed in the north. This small Marine detachment 
with its unique equipment contributed to the capa- 
bility of both Air Force and Navy units to operate on 
a regional basis. 17 

Sub Unit One, 
1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company 

The single largest and most dispersed U.S. Marine 
unit in Vietnam was Sub Unit One, 1st Air and Naval 
Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO). Much as the 
motto of the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television 
Network in Vietnam, Sub Unit One (SUl) covered 
"From the Delta to the DMZ." Marine naval gunfire 
spotters on top of outpost Alpha 2 from Gio Linh just 
south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) kept a close 
eye on any movement to the north, while as far south 
as the Ca Mau Peninsula on the Gulf of Siam, spot- 
ters provided territorial forces their naval gunfire 
(NGF) requirements. Unlike the handpicked U.S. Ma- 
rine advisors, the ANGLICO Marines and naval per- 
sonnel had received neither language training nor 
formal instruction on Vietnamese culture, yet were 
called upon to serve in ARVN units. They were quite 
capable, however, of putting high-explosive naval ord- 
nance on target. According to Lieutenant Colonel 
D'Wayne Gray, who, on 19 July 1971, had relieved 
Lieutenant Colonel Shoults as officer- in-charge of the 
unit, "the Marines came through in good style." 

Lieutenant Colonel Gray, a prematurely gray, pipe- 
smoking Texan, was well qualified for this assignment. 
He was knowledgeable of the Vietnamese, their lan- 
guage, and their culture. In 1964 he had attended the 
Vietnamese Language School at the Foreign Service 
Institute in Arlington, Virginia, and had served a 
previous tour in Vietnam in 1965 as advisor to the 
Chief of Staff of the Vietnamese Marine Corps, then 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) KN20294 
Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO, was an essential element for the continued American naval 
gunfire support to South Vietnamese and U.S. Army forces. Here the guided missile cruiser 
USS Oklahoma City fires 6-inch, Al-caliber, triple-turret guns supporting ground units. 

Lieutenant Colonel Bui The Lan. After his return to 
the United States he organized the first Marine Corps 
Vietnamese Language Course at Quantico, Virginia. 
He taught Vietnamese language for one year before 
being assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps 
(HQMC) and took over the Vietnam desk in the Joint 
Planning Group. In addition to this extensive 
knowledge of Vietnam, he was a qualified aerial ob- 
server (AO) with broad experience in supporting 
arms.* 18 

As Gray assumed command of Sub Unit One at a 
platoon-sized ceremony in Saigon, he was concerned 
with two matters. First, he was determined to supply 
the South Vietnamese all the naval gunfire and air 
support they needed to stand off the northern forces. 
Second, he also wished to see his Marines and sailors 

*Thc AO, a naval aviation observer (tactical), was a Marine Corps 
phenomenon in which ground officers in light aircraft and helicop- 
ters controlled supporting arms and reported on enemy activities. 
At times, a warrant officer or lieutenant found himself controlling 
the firepower of a major general. These qualified, and occasionally 
colorful, individuals served with ANGLICO, observation squadrons, 
artillery regiments, and the division intelligence section. 

continue to work well with the Vietnamese as well as 
the Koreans and the Australians. He later stated that 
the possibility of a major involvement with North Viet- 
namese forces never crossed his mind: "things were 
winding down; this was going to be a quiet period." 19 
ANGLICO was charged with the coordination of 
naval gunfire and air support in any form for U.S. 
Army and allied forces. In Vietnam, ANGLICO was 
responsible for obtaining and controlling the fire of 
Seventh Fleet's destroyers and cruisers along the coun- 
try's entire coastline. In addition, the ANGLICO Ma- 
rines assigned a brigade tactical air control party to 
the Korean Marine Corps units. Sub Unit One's head- 
quarters was in Saigon adjacent to the MACV com- 
pound, but its spot and liaison teams were positioned 
at eight sites along the coastal areas. Lieutenant 
Colonel Gray felt that his teams knew how to shoot 
and communicate, that they were above average in in- 
telligence, and that they possessed the initiative neces- 
sary to carry out their advisory responsibilities to senior 
officers concerning fire support matters. The teams 
were ready, but there were some obstacles. 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A704818 
Sub Unit One's officer in charge, LtColD'Wayne Gray, 
pictured here as a colonel in 1914, led a diverse group 
of specialists in operations that covered the length of 
the Republic of Vietnam. He wears U.S. Army and 
ARVN parachutist and naval air observer insignia. 

When coordinated, naval gunfire, artillery, and air 
support complemented each other. Naval gunfire was 
generally accurate and effective under a variety of 
weather conditions and helped fill the gap left by 
departing U.S. artillery. These gunfire missions, 
however, had to be coordinated to prevent interfer- 
ence with air strikes in the same area. It was standard 
procedure to coordinate the activities of both air liai- 
son teams and tactical aircraft with naval gunfire sup- 
port ship missions. The Marine tactical data system 
interface capability, mentioned earlier, provided the 
close coordination and control of supporting arms* 

The problem for ANGLICO teams was the neces- 
sarily detailed coordination of supporting fires to com- 
bat units. At the time, artillery and NGF were not 
permitted to fire at the same time that close air sup- 

*The basic organization for employment was a tactical air con- 
trol party (TACP) wich airborne or ground forward air controllers 
(FACs) and a shore fire control party (SFCP) with naval gunfire spot 
teams and liaison teams. These task units combined to form an air- 
naval gunfire platoon. 

port missions were being flown in the same area. This 
problem was addressed daily, but no satisfactory so- 
lution was found to permit use of the Marines' res- 
trictive fire plan, which allowed for simultaneous air 
and gunfire missions. Gray recalled the U.S. Air Force 
"just refused to consider any alternative . . . and the 
U.S. Army, all the way to the top, let them get away 
with it." Consequently, when the aircraft made their 
runs, the artillery and naval gunfire simply had to stop 
firing. Although it was a coordination nightmare, the 
situation was tolerable during this slack period as there 
were no really worthwhile targets of opportunity or 
pressing needs for gunfire support. 2 " 

The range of the naval guns was also a major defi- 
ciency. Almost three years earlier, on 15 March 1969, 
the battleship USS New Jersey (BB 62), with her 
16-inch guns, had returned to the United States for 
decommissioning. The preponderance of naval guns 
that remained were mounted on destroyers and were 
of 5-inch bore diameter. The older 5"38 guns, with 
their limited range and manual loading, were reserved 
for areas near the coastline. The newer automated and 
longer-range 5"54 gun was used on targets which were 
either farther inland or which called for heavy, fast con- 
centrations. The 5"54 also fired a rocket-assisted 
projectile (RAP),** which extended the normal range 
of the American gunfire support ships. This round, 
however, was not very accurate or effective at maximum 
range. Despite limitations, the support ships, work- 
ing closely with the spotters ashore, formed an array 
of combat power which was a deterrent to enemy 
movements and activities along coastal areas. 

Liaison and staff integration between ANGLICO 
and supported forces presented a real, but lesser, 
problem. ANGLICO detachments, headed by junior 
Marine and Navy officers and enlisted men, often were 
challenged by senior American Army and Air Force 
officers to provide the most appropriate supporting 
arm to employ in a given situation and how best to 
use it. Often the rank differential was extreme, such 
as the time a U.S. Army lieutenant general landed his 
helicopter on a fire support base in MR 1, to discuss 
naval gunfire with the senior American present, a U.S. 
Marine lance corporal. 

The challenge to communications for the widely dis- 
persed ANGLICO and fire-support units was met by 

**This projectile was fired from a gun-tube as though it was an 
ordinary round. At a certain point after leaving the gun a rocket 
ignited and gave the ordnance extra propulsion to extend its maxi- 
mum range. Keep in mind that effective use of naval gunfire is 
within the first three-quarters of the range of the gun fired. 



Photo courtesy of MajGen Donald R. Gardner, USMC 
Control of supporting arms by Sub Unit One was by 
air observers flying from American and South Viet- 
namese aircraft. This AO ts flying in the right seat of 
a U.S. Air Force Cessna 0-2 Skymaster over the 
Mekong Delta in support of riverine operations. 

Master Sergeant Donald E. Heim and his team of Ma- 
rine communicators. Heim, a former Marine artillery 
officer and to Gray "a superb staff NCO," was cons- 
tantly at work holding together a radio network 
plagued by the area's marginal high frequency wave- 
propagation and extended distances that taxed the 
capabilities of his equipment. The network, however, 
was unusual in that it provided an alternate means 
of voice communications among Marines throughout 
South Vietnam. This network later was to prove sig- 
nificant in tying together an otherwise disparate group 
of Marines* 

Fire support teams were supporting the United 
States, Vietnamese, and Australian armies and the 
Korean and Vietnamese Marines. In MR 1 a liaison 
team with XXIV Corps in Da Nang supported U.S. 
Army units. Shore fire control parties were with the 
1st, and later the 3d, ARVN divisions at Quang Tri; 
spotters worked with Vietnamese Marine Corps 
(VNMC) units and their U.S. Marine advisors along the 
DMZ and with the American 23d (Americal) Infan- 

*Because ANGLICO operators were with a variety of units and 
in equally varied locations, MACV's Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, 
J-3 (Operational), Brigadier General William H. lanagan, Jr., a Ma- 
rine himself and a personal friend of Lieutenant Colonel Gray, had 
a Marine-manned communications system that extended rhe whole 
length of South Vietnam. 

try Division at Chu Lai. In MR 2 a liaison team was 
maintained at Nha Trang; spotters were flown in on 
rare occasions when needed. A liaison team was at MR 
3 regional headquarters in Long Binh and spot teams 
were with the U.S. Army's 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Di- 
vision, at Bien Hoa and with the Australian forces at 
Nui Dat. In the Mekong Delta in MR 4, a liaison team 
was assigned to the regional headquarters at Can Tho. 
Two Marine AO's flying with VAL-4 at Binh Tuy and a 
shore fire control party with the 21st ARVN Division 
at Ca Mau completed Sub Unit One's dispositions. 
During the next few months, Gray shifted his teams 
to meet the differing needs of the supported units. 

Near Hoi An in MR 1, the largest ANGLICO con- 
tingent in South Vietnam was assembled under Major 
Edward J. "Jim" Dyer. Within this northernmost and 
most heavily threatened of the country's military 
regions, ANGLICO Marines supported the 2d Repub- 
lic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) Brigade and were 
charged not only with control of naval gunfire sup- 
port but also with arranging for and controlling all 
allied air support. ANGLICO personnel were attached 
to the companies of the brigade so that when the 
Koreans needed air strikes, helicopter support, or med- 
ical evacuation, the planes could be requested and 
directed in English. This policy was necessary because 
the helicopters belonged to the US. Army and the tac- 
tical close air support was provided by the U.S. Air 
Force, U.S. Navy, and South Vietnamese Air Force 
(RVNAF). English was the only common language. 

Major Dyer, a former naval officer, was an especial- 
ly qualified Marine. While in the Navy, he had been 
a naval gunfire liaison officer on Okinawa with the 
3d Marine Division. During his first tour in Vietnam, 
he was an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy's junk force. 
At the end of 1965, he requested an inter-service trans- 
fer to the Marine Corps, was commissioned in Saigon, 
and reported to the Marines for a full tour of duty 
as a 105mm howitzer battery commander in Vietnam. 
In June 1971, Major Dyer was in Vietnam again for 
his third tour, his second as a Marine, and was right 
at home with his naval gunfire platoon in support of 
the ROK Marines. 

The Korean camp and outposts were examples right 
out of a field manual — immaculate in every way with 
every sandbag in place. It was apparent to Major Dyer 
that the "Blue Dragon" Marines were thoroughly 
professional: they kept their hair cut close, wore their 
uniforms with pride, and appeared physically ready. 

During July 1971, despite Typhoons Harriet and 
Kim, the cruiser USS Oklahoma City (CLG 5) fired 



Photo courtesy of Maj Charles W. King, USMC (Ret) 
Ground spot teams brought supporting arms to bear on the enemy from various loca- 
tions, such as from this outpost just below the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri Province. 
Here an air strike is conducted along the main avenue of approach from North Vietnam. 

repeatedly in support of the ROKMC. Staff visits to 
the ship by both ROKMC staff officers and ANGLI- 
CO personnel ensured coordination and technical un- 
derstanding among the parties concerned. Briefings 
were held in the areas of operations, friendly positions, 
common radio frequencies, intelligence targets, and 
target lists. Enemy activity was generally light, but the 
ROKMC had scattered contact while on a cordon and 
search operation in the foothills of the Que Son Moun- 
tains. In the field with the ROK Marines, Corporal 
Anthony Sandoval provided the communications link 
and control necessary for NGF and air support. Most 
of his efforts were directed toward controlling helicop- 
ters flying logistic support missions. 

Military Region 1 was the area that, on a day-to- 
day basis, provided the most return for the expendi- 
ture of money, ammunition, time, and manpower. 
Although it was difficult to assess damage done and 
enemy killed, many targets along the Demilitarized 
Zone were fired upon daily. In addition, Marines in 
Quang Tri, the northernmost province, served as an 
early-warning, instant-response, reaction element. 
Lieutenant Colonel Gray called them "disaster 
preventers." Time was to prove him correct. 

Elsewhere, when things were quiet, Marines were 

idle, and this idleness presented a problem. The ap- 
parent enemy inactivity and the lack of a need to 
respond was countered by a vigorous training and 
cross-training program and enrollments in Marine 
Corps Institute correspondence courses in forward ob- 
server techniques. Communicators were sent to the 3d 
Marine Division Naval Gunfire School at Subic Bay, 
Philippines, and NGF spotters were trained in com- 
munications procedures and equipment while in Viet- 
nam. Many Marines, including Gray and First Sergeant 
Ernest Benjamin, both of whom were over 40, under- 
went parachute jump training at the ARVN Airborne 
Training Center at Tan San Nhut Air Base, while some 
Marines completed similar training on Okinawa given 
by the U.S. 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). The 
physically demanding preparation for such training oc- 
cupied the otherwise slack time and built an "Air- 
borne" esprit within Sub Unit One* It also created 
an atmosphere of mutual respect between ANGLICO 
and the ARVN Airborne Division it supported. 

Along the northeast sector of the DMZ, the NGF 
area of responsibility shifted inland to the west. Naval 

*Members of ANGLICO units were required to be parachute 
trained in order to carry out their mission in support of joint and 
combined operations, in this case with the ARVN Airborne Division. 



Photo courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine 
Sub Unit One liaison teams operated with selected 
American and allied units. Here Korean and Ameri- 
can Marines work side-by-side at the Korean Marine 
Brigade's combat operations center near Hoi An. 

gunfire spotters shared common locations with the 
U.S. Marine advisors on such hilltop outposts as Al- 
pha 1 and Alpha 2 (Gio Linh) just below the DMZ. 
A spurt of enemy activity during the latter part of Au- 
gust gave the spotters the opportunity to call up to 
10 missions a day. Most of the missions were suppres- 
sive fires targeted against enemy mortar and rocket po- 
sitions. Supporting the Marine spotters on the ground 
as well as the 1st ARVN Division were ANGLJCO aer- 
ial observers flying from the airfield at Dong Ha in 
both U.S. Army and RVNAF aircraft. Army Lieutenant 
General Welborn G. Dolvin, commanding XXIV 
Corps, expressed his satisfaction with the naval gun- 
fire support rendered in his area of responsibility dur- 
ing this period. 21 

Despite the fact that areas became devoid of ene- 
my activity and obvious enemy movements, Lieutenant 
Colonel Gray was insistent that his men be gainfully 
employed. Drugs, racial unrest, inter-service rivalry, 
and bad weather threatened morale and challenged 
his unit's leadership. In a letter to Headquarters Ma- 
rine Corps recommending a reduction of the unit's 
manning level, Lieutenant Colonel Gray said, "No Ma- 
rine should remain in Vietnam who does not have a 
full day's work to do every day." The proposal to reduce 
was made in order "to make these Marines available 
for more productive employment and to remove them 
from this environment where idle minds create 
problems at a higher rate than found in a normal 
devil's playground." 22 These reductions were made 
feasible by dissolving all ANGLICO units in MR 2 and 
MR 3, while still maintaining mobile spot teams pre- 
pared to reenter those areas on short notice. 

For example, during late September 1971, a flare- 
up in Tay Ninh Province, MR 3, and across the bord- 
er in Cambodia, challenged the responsiveness as well 
as boosted the morale of Sub Unit One. Enemy ac- 
tivity in that area appeared to threaten the city of Tay 
Ninh. Intelligence reports caused the MACV Deputy 
J-3 for Operations, Brigadier General William H. 
Lanagan, to ask for an additional tactical air control 
capability along the Cambodian border. The USAF 
was tasked to provide the forward air controllers (FAC) 
and ANGLICO to supply the communicators and FAC 
teams to direct and control USAF aircraft inland. 

In less than an hour, Master Sergeant Heim had the 
men and equipment staged. At first light the next 
morning, Lieutenant Colonel Gray, Master Sergeant 
Heim, and the Marine teams boarded helicopters, flew 
to Bien Hoa, picked up three USAF ground forward 
air control officers, and then flew to Tay Ninh City. 
There they took up three positions around the city. 
During the next several days, the teams received 
sporadic rocket fire in and near their positions. 
Although they did not control any air strikes, the 
teams were in place and were ready and communicat- 
ing with the orbiting aircraft. An emergency had been 
met with dispatch. 23 

By October, the winter monsoon had come to the 
northern provinces. Weather conditions were so severe 
from 4 to 13 October that there were no naval gun- 
fire support ships available. During the rest of the 
month the weather remained so miserable that neither 
friend nor foe did much moving. On 23 October 1971, 
typhoon weather conditions, with gusts up to 85 miles- 
per-hour, was uprooting trees and flooding the Da 
IstSgt Ernest Benjamin was the senior enlisted Ma- 
rine in Sub Unit One. This was his fourth tour in Viet- 
nam and one during which he confronted many de- 
mands of combat leadership in the Spring Offensive. 

Photo courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine 




Photo courtesy of LtCol George E. Jones, USMC (Ret) 
At graduation from the parachute school at the ARVN 
Airborne Training Center at Tan Son Nhut Air Base 
near Saigon, Sub Unit One members are awarded 
"jump wings" for completing the demanding course, 
earning prestige while serving with airborne units. 

Nang, Chu Lai, and Quang Ngai areas. The commu- 
nications equipment with the liaison-spot teams was 
damaged by the weather, while the Marines themselves 
suffered no injures. 

By November 1971, as the adverse weather condi- 
tions subsided, suitable targets for naval gunfire in- 
creasingly appeared. Still, the employment of naval 
gunfire ships decreased as ARVN artillery took up 
more of these fire missions. By 29 November, the Ar- 
my's 23d Infantry Division had departed Vietnam. As 
the 2d ARVN Division relocated to Chu Lai to assume 
that tactical area of responsibility, Shore Fire Control 
Party "1-3" at Quang Ngai moved with it. The AN- 
GLICO platoon at Hoi An prepared to stand down 
as the Korean Marine Brigade made preparation for 
its departure in early December. 24 

On the night of 22 December 1971, MACV Advisory 
Team 17 personnel observed a sizable enemy troop 
movement north of Due Pho village in Quang Ngai. 
The enemy seemed to be moving in the direction of 

the town, and the advisors wanted the ANGLICO 
operators to "do something about it." 25 The liaison 
team located with the 2d ARVN Division at Chu Lai 
was called into action. Team commander Lieutenant 
(jg) Aaron D. Garrett, USN, responded by calling in 
high-explosive, variable-timed fragmentation, and 
Smoke projectiles into the middle of the enemy's dis- 
position. The Army advisors jubilantly radioed back 
that the mission was a success. Because of the cover 
of darkness, the Communists had displayed uncharac- 
teristic boldness and were caught moving across the 
open terrain. When the rounds hit, the enemy for- 
mation was broken, and they quit the field in a rout. 
An early morning sweep did not reveal any bodies, but 
blood trails and abandoned equipment were in 

By the end of 1971, Vietnam's navy had four deep- 
draft ships with naval gunfire capability, albeit limited 
when compared to the larger, more heavily armed U.S. 
ships. Nevertheless, an attempt was made toward Viet- 
namization of naval gunfire support* Vietnamese fire 
control personnel readily grasped the rudiments of 
NGF, but the indirect fire capability of the VNN ships 
was severely limited by the existing gunfire control sys- 
tem and close-in support of friendly troops was there- 
fore marginal. ARVN officers were trained and did 
control some fire in the Mekong Delta, but as a whole, 
the effort was ineffective. 28 

During January 1972, Sub Unit One continued to 
provide support for ARVN units in MR 4. Naval gun- 
fire provided support during the construction of fire 
bases in the southern portion of the Ca Mau Penin- 
sula. As the fire bases were completed, ARVN artillery 
was moved into position. Both naval gunfire and ar- 
tillery then concentrated on bringing fire to bear on 
suspected enemy control points, staging areas, and 
probable base camps. By early March, field artillery 
was programmed to provide complete coverage of the 
Delta Region. A gradual and consistent reduction of 
naval gunfire requirements appeared to be reasona- 
bly certain. 

In order to extend the range of naval gunfire in- 
land, on 2 February 1972, the American destroyer USS 
Morton (DD 981) sailed into Da Nang harbor to fire 
into Elephant Valley, an enemy staging area west of 
the city. Such a mission had been considered previ- 
ously, but this was the first time it had actually been 

♦Attempts to organize a South Vietnamese ANGLICO-type unit 
within the VNMC were turned down by the VNN, ARVN, and 



carried out. While its operations were difficult to coor- 
dinate within the confines of the bay, the destroyer's 
presence provided moral support in and around the 
Da Nang area. 27 

By 24 March 1972, there were no U.S. ground spot- 
ters on an assigned basis anywhere in Vietnam except 
along the DM2. Thete, Marines remained in the ob- 
servation tower at Gio Linh Alpha 2 along with their 
ARVN counterparts. From other ANGLICO person- 
nel, additional spot teams had been otganized to 
respond to an emergency or any unusual situation. 
Lieutenant Commandet Richatd M. Kreassig, USN, 
the ANGLICO liaison officet for XXIV Corps, had 
even drawn up a contingency plan to cover the possi- 
ble evacuation of exposed Alpha 2 during an emer- 
gency, particularly during the Febtuaty Tet period. A 
Tet offensive anticipated by MACV did not material- 
ize, however, and allied fotces stood down ftom theit 

alert. Now, because of Lieutenant Colonel Gtay's per- 
sistent recommendations, Sub Unit One's authorized 
personnel sttength was reduced from 185 to 89 men, 
effective 1 May 1972. 

It appeared that peace indeed had come to South 
Vietnam; the matket places in the Cam Lo village just 
south of the DMZ wete scenes of active ttading. Btu 
Montagnards wete once again planting theit ctops in 
the Ba Long River Valley with a reasonable hope of 
harvesting them without Viet Cong interfetence. One 
could drive alone from Quang Tri Province to the 
bustling capital city of Saigon and southward to Ca 
Mau in the heart of the Delta without feat of ambush 
or confrontation. The canals in the U Minh Fotest were 
open to civil use with telative assurance of safety. South 
Vietnam, with its natural wealth in forests, paddies, 
and rivers, seemingly had begun to prosper once 
more. 28 


The Advisors 

Naval Advisory Group, Naval Advisory Units— The Rung Sat Special Zone 
The Mekong Delta Tactical Zone -Naval Advisory Group, Marine Advisory Unit -Trusted Friends' 

Winding Down— Along the DMZ 

Naval Advisory Group, Naval Advisory Units 

By mid-1971, the main thrust of U.S. policy inside 
Vietnam was the advisory effort. Most Marine advi- 
sors were concentrated within the framework of the 
Naval Advisory Group (NAG) under the Commander, 
Naval Forces Vietnam, Rear Admiral Robert S. Salzer. 
This included the Marines who served their tours large- 
ly unheralded in the Mekong River Delta Region of 
MR 4. This river plain, to the east, south, and west 
of Saigon, accounted for almost a quarter of the total 
area of South Vietnam. A grid of rivers and canals 
dominated this relatively flat region, where boats and 
helicopters provided the most practical modes of trans- 
portation. Otherwise, a traveler faced an exhausting 
struggle on foot through a quagmire of murky water, 
oozing mud, and practically impenetrable tropical 
vines and roots. Under French colonial rule, the delta 
was criss-crossed by a well developed road and canal 
system for ease of regional movement. Because of the 
importance of this network to the economies of both 
Vietnam and Cambodia, it was vital to keep these 
highways open. 

From as early as 1954, the thick mangrove jungles 
of the delta provided a place of refuge for the Viet 
Cong (VC) guerrillas as they waged their war of terror 
upon the region's hamlets and river commerce. After 
each attack, the VC could return to the relative safety 
and seclusion of their base camps. However, operations 
conducted by South Vietnam's Regional (RF) and 
Popular (PF) Forces which began in 1964, over the years 
had reduced the enemy activity from a major threat 
to minor harassment. Since July 1964, when Major Ed- 
ward J. Bronars was assigned as the first U.S. Marine 
advisor in the delta, Marines had worked with these 
government troops, assisting in base, village, and ham- 
let security. Within the delta, Marines were assigned 
to both the Rung Sat Special Zone and the Mekong 
Delta Tactical Zone. 1 

The Rung Sat Special Zone 

The Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ), southeast of Sai- 
gon, was an area of approximately 480 square miles, 
extending to the South China Sea- Rung Sat, which 
means "Forest of Death," was an area of great concern 

to the South Vietnamese government because the Long 
Tau River ran through its center. The Long Tau, or Roy- 
al River, could accommodate deep-draft ships up to 
720 feet long. The river banks were low and lined with 
dense mangrove marsh and swamps. It was the main 
shipping channel leading to Saigon and much of the 
logistic and economic support of South Vietnam de- 
pended on the river remaining open. The RSSZ com- 
mand was charged with keeping this waterway open 
and functioning. 

By October 1971, enemy activity had been brought 
under control. Combined U.S. Marine, Navy, and 
Army advisors, under the supervision of the Senior Ad- 
visor, RSSZ, U.S. Navy Commander Douglas A. 
Stewart, worked with the local forces in operations 
designed to keep the enemy off balance. At the same 
time they assisted the civilians in reconstruction, public 
health, education, and other aspects of nation- 
building. With some sense of security, the fishermen, 
woodcutters, and farmers once again were following 
the roles of their forefathers as an ominous peace set- 
tled over Rung Sat, the Forest of Death. 

Major James M. Tully was Commander Stewart's as- 
sistant senior advisor and was specifically charged with 
tactical ground and air operations. The zone was divid- 
ed into two districts, Can Gio on the east and Quang 
Xuyen on the west. Each district had a U.S. Marine 
advisory team assigned to it. The Quang Xuyen Dis- 
trict team was headed by Captain Ronald S. Neubauer, 
while Captain David W. Blizzard headed the team in 
the Can Gio District. Daily, Vietnamese and Ameri- 
cans shared food, hardships, and work as they patrolled 
the waterways of the Rung Sat. With his assignment 
to the swamps of the RSSZ, Captain Neubauer, a lean, 
red-headed Marine from Norwalk, Connecticut, was 
far removed from the pageantry of his previous duty 
station. While assigned to the Marine Barracks, 
Washington, D.C., he had served as parade adjutant 
and as a social aide at the White House. 2 

To cover their vast districts each captain was assist- 
ed by six enlisted advisors and one Navy medical corps- 
man. The enlisted Marines, on occasion, were called 
upon to advise Vietnamese officers while the Navy 
corpsmen were often required to perform functions 




Photo courtesy of LtCol Ronald S. Neubauer, USMC (Ret) 
Capt Ronald S. Neubauer reviews a plan with South Vietnamese local forces prior to their 
insertion into the Rung Sat Special Zone. He wears the black beret of the "junk force" navy. 

or to give treatment that normally would be expected 
of a physician. The enlisted Marines were often com- 

munications, intelligence, and engineer specialists. 
They assisted in all forms of military and civil opera- 
tions, but the counterinsurgency effort was their forte. 
Each man on the team worked closely with his coun- 
terpart in an effort to develop a comprehensive pro- 
gram to pacify the entire Long Tau shipping channel. 

In such an undertaking, each meter of river was as 
vital as the next. Friendly forces had to be as mobile 
and as flexible as possible in order to counter the Viet 
Cong threat. Operations ranging from multi-company 
helicopter and waterborne assaults down to squad-size 
interdiction missions were carried out repeatedly and 
with such effectiveness that enemy activity had been 
reduced to practically nothing. Advisors accompanied 
the Vietnamese on operations, assisting the com- 
manders on the ground in talking with the command 
and communications helicopters, providing aerial ob- 
servation, close air support, naval gunfire support, 
troop lifts, and medical evacuation. 

Marine Staff Sergeant Freddie L. Murray was as- 
signed to work with the Regional Force militia in late 
1971. Murray assisted the Vietnamese with commu- 

nications between ground units, arranged for boats to 
move through the waterways, and for U.S. Navy or 
Army helicopter support. There was not much excite- 
ment in the Rung Sat, only the hard, dirty work of 
slogging through knee-deep mud and swamp under 
a blistering sun. Murray felt that progress had been 
made and the advisors no longer went on field opera- 
tions "unless they have a specific target to hit." 3 

There were times when Marine advisors gave more 
than just morale or communications support. On 9 
November 1971, Captain Blizzard accompanied a Viet- 
namese PF squad in the Can Gio District that walked 
into an enemy ambush. One "PF" was hit by the ini- 
tial burst of small arms fire and fell seriously wound- 
ed. While directing the other Vietnamese to secure 
a helicopter landing zone, Captain Blizzard radioed 
for a medical evacuation helicopter. With the helicop- 
ter on the way, he ran 50 meters to the fallen soldier 
and, while enemy bullets struck around him, hoisted 
the wounded man to his shoulders and carried him 
300 meters to the secured zone. After the "Medevac," 
Captain Blizzard rallied the Vietnamese and led them 
in an assault on the enemy position. For his bravery, 
he was awarded the Silver Star Medal. Later, he was 



to go north to join the fighting in MR 1 with the Viet- 
namese Marines. 

The Mekong Delta Tactical Zone 

To the northwest along the Cambodian border, 
things had not been quiet. Late in 1970 the North 
Vietnamese and Viet Cong had made an effort to iso- 
late Cambodia's Phnom Penh, the capital of the 
Khmer Republic, by closing all lines of communica- 
tions including the vital Mekong River between Tan 
Chau, Vietnam, and the capital. Early in 1971, the 
oil tanker Mekong was sunk while transporting petrole- 
um upstream. After this attack the Cambodian 
Government asked the United States and South Viet- 
nam to provide protection for the river convoys be- 
tween Tan Chau and Phnom Penh. This was not to 
be an easy task, for convoy protection required close 
cooperation among nine military services of the three 

After a request from the Cambodian Government, 
Operation Tran Hung Dao 18 was initiated for the 
Mekong Delta Tactical Zone (MDTZ). The primary ob- 
jective of this operation was to organize and coordinate 
ground and air support for convoys which carried mili- 
tary cargo and petroleum products from Tan Chau to 

Photo courtesy of MajGcn Donald R Gardner, USMC 
American advisor Maj Donald R, Gardner is seen, at 
left, in front of a typical sandbagged defensive 
position and Butler Building housing area at the Tan 
Chau naval operating base in South Vietnam. 

Phnom Penh. The vital river route passed through 
more than 100 kilometers of dense jungles, high river 
banks, and several narrow gorges affording the ene- 
my ideal ambush positions at almost any point. 4 On 
18 January 1972, Major Donald R. Gardner relieved 
Navy Commander Arthur St. Clair Wright as senior 

South Vietnamese local forces on a Vietnamese Navy rivercraft make preparations for 
going ashore. They are members of Regional Force Company 999 armed with small arms. 

Photo courtesy of LtCol Ronald S. Neubauer, USMC (Ret) 



Photo courtesy of MajGen Donald R. Gardner, USMC 
Photograph of the naval operating base on the Mekong River and the nearby town of Tan 
Chau shows the defensive barriers, the interior of the base, and the boat dock at the right. 

advisor, Tran Hung Dao 18 (THD-18); area coordina- 
tor; and Commander, Task Group 116.15. Major Gard- 
ner, wearing a Silver Star Medal from a previous tour 
of duty in Vietnam and after serving nine months in 
the Chau Doc Province, was embarking upon an as- 
signment that had political and cultural implications 
unavoidable even at the advisory level. Traditionally, 
Vietnamese and Cambodians neither liked nor respect- 
ed one another. It was Major Gardner's task to 
minimize this historic antagonism through a continu- 
ous liaison and coordination effort. As he recalled, 
only "the good working relationship, in spite of ethnic 
differences, between the FANK (Cambodian Army), 
4th ARVN Ranger Group, and the THD-18 made this 

In addition to the Vietnamese Navy commitment 
of ships, tankers, tugs, and barges to haul fuel and 

other supplies to Phnom Penh, there was a constant 
requirement to support the ARVN ground forces that 
provided river bank security. Originally, the VNMC 
had been tasked with these duties, but, ultimately, 
the ARVN 4th Ranger Group of the 44th Special Tac- 
tical Zone was assigned this mission. In cooperation 
with the Cambodian 4th Infantry Brigade, the ARVN 
Rangers were successful in preventing the enemy from 
closing the river supply route* 

Major Gardner's VNN counterpart, Commodore 
Nghiem Van Phu, a graduate of the U.S. Army's Com- 
mand and Staff College, had run convoys on the Red 
River in North Vietnam prior to 1954, before Gard- 
ner was old enough to wear a uniform. He was a naval 

*MajGen Donald R. Gardner later noted that this "was the only 
source of supply for Phnom Penh. Had it failed, Cambodia would 
have fallen in 1971." (Gardner comments) 


Photo courtesy of MajGen Donald R. Gardner, USMC 
Patrol craft were the essence of riverine operations. 
Here a Cambodian patrol boat riverine (PBR) docks 
at the Tan Chau base. This American-made craft used 
water-jet propulsion to operate in the shallow, restrict- 
ed waterways. It is armed with Browning .50-caliber 
guns in the bow andM60 machine guns in the stern. 

professional in every sense and expecred no less from 
his officers and men. Under the commodore's tutelage, 
Gardner quickly became accustomed to "brown warer 
navy" techniques* Major Gardner learned the customs 
of the delta people, visited rheir families, and made 
efforts ro improve sanirary and living condirions. The 
people-ro-people effort rook on a new meaning one 
day when on a sampan he helped ro deliver a child. 
Every day seemed ro present new challenges. 

In February and March 1972, allied forces uncovered 
caches of arms and supplies near ourlying bases along 
the Cambodian border indicating that Communist in- 
filrrarors had prepared for more rhan guerrilla-rype 
harassmenr acrions. Air srrikes by American, Vier- 
namese, and Cambodian forces provided some con- 
voy prorecrion, bur the Communists, howevet, 
tepeatedly made their presence known. In early 1972 
rhere were more rhan 60 ambushes againsr shipping 
to Phnom Penh. Duting this time, the enemy sank 
one batge and damaged othet vessels with rockets. 
Communist antiaitctaft fire downed rhree helicoprers 
providing escorr air cover. 5 

Naval Advisory Group, Marine Advisory Unit 

While individual Marines served Vietnamese forces 

*"Brown water navy" is a phrase used to describe riverine and 
coastal operations as opposed to the "blue water navy" of the ocean- 
going forces. 


Phoro courtesy of MajGen Donald R. Gardner, USMC 
Convoy escort into Cambodia brought about same un- 
usual situations, as in this case where there is a meet- 
ing between a local Communist military leader and 
the Tan Chau district chief in the center of the picture, 

within Navy and MACV advisoty units, one group of 
Matine advisors had caught the Cotps' populat im- 
age as "The Matine Advisors." These wete the officers 
and men of the Matine Advisory Unir** who served 
with the Vietnamese Marine Cotps. The VNMC was 
formed ar the time of the 1954 ceasefire that estab- 
lished North and South Vietnam. An elire unit by any 
standatd and closely associated with the U.S. Marine 
Corps, the VNMC had been fighting rhe Communists 
for more rhan 20 years. Marines selecred ro serve as 
advisors with them were considered forrunare for be- 
ing among rhe only Marines in combar and for rhe 
exoric narure of rheir assignment. As advisots, rhe 
Americans wore rhe same disrincrive green berer and 
"riger srripe" field unifotm of rhe Viernamese. Un- 
der rhe supervision of a Seniot Matine Advisot (SMA), 
Marines wete assigned to VNMC battalions, as well 
as ro btigade and division staffs. 

The VNMC had its beginning in Octobet 1954 
when Lieutenant Colonel Victot J. Ctoizat helped ot- 
ganize the VNMC from fotmet colonial-era comman- 
dos who had come sourh under rhe provisions of rhe 
Geneva Conference agreemenrs.*** 6 A division-sized 

**Abbieviated at rhe time as the MAU, but hereafter MarAdvU 
to avoid confusion with the Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) of 
the Seventh Fleet. 

***lst and 2d Battaillons de Merche, in accordance with Decree 
991-QP/ND of 130ct54. 



service since 19<$8, the VNMC boasted nine infantry 
battalions, three artillery battalions, and three brigade 
headquarters designated Marine Brigades 147, 258, 
and 369- Each of the brigades was originally formed 
from the infantry battalions which made up its nu- 
merical designation, e.g., Marine Btigade 258 origi- 
nally had the 2d, 5th, and 8th battalions under its 
control. In practice, a brigade headquarters controlled 
whatever mix of units it was assigned. The VNMC, 
along with the ARVN Airborne, formed the Joint 
General Staff General Reserve of the Republic of Viet- 
nam, and, as such, was employed in any of the four 
military regions. Additionally, a VNMC battalion or 
a task force could be attached to any of the corps tac- 
tical zones or army divisions to serve as a reaction force. 
From April 1971, two brigades operated in Quang Tri 
Province, first under the operational control of the 1st 
ARVN Division headquarters and later with the new- 
ly formed 3d ARVN Division. The Marine division 
headquarters and the temaining brigade were locat- 
ed in Saigon. 

By now, many of the U.S. Marines reporting to the 
advisory unit in Saigon for duty were returning to Viet- 
nam for their second and third times. Some had com- 
pleted the Army's Military Assistance Training Advisor 
(MATA) Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, or the 
Marine Advisor Course at Quantico, Virginia. A few 
advisors were fluent in Vietnamese and most could 
converse at a basic level. Upon arrival in Saigon, the 
new advisors could tell that the city was prospering: 

the open markets were doing a rushing business, street 
vendors were hawking theit wares, nightclubs abound- 
ed, and there was a swarm of people constandy in mo- 
tion on small but noisy motorscooters. As the advisors 
made their way north to join their battalions, they were 
surprised at the peaceful appearance of the country- 
side. During the latter part of 1971, both Americans 
and Vietnamese moved throughout the area with lit- 
tle trepidation. No one felt the necessity of wearing 
a helmet or flak jacket and few Marines actually car- 
ried a magazine loaded in their weapons. The Viet- 
namese seemed happy and in good physical shape; 
many would greet the Ameticans in English when they 

After the initial briefing in Saigon by the Senior 
Marine Advisor, those Marines assigned to the brigades 
operating in the north often made their way there by 
serving as mailmen and couriers to Marines already 
in the field. While all the advisors' mail came into 
Saigon, the way it got to the other end of the country 
was not predetermined. For example, when Captain 
Ray L. Smith checked in and was assigned to the 4th 
VNMC Battalion at Mai Loc, he catried four bags of 
mail with him. It was relatively easy to catch an air- 
craft from Saigon to Da Nang, but from that point 
on, the itinerary was erratic. After spending a day at 
Da Nang, Smith was able to catch a plane to Phu Bai. 
Because of the monsoon rains, Major Walter E. Boom- 
er, senior advisor to the 4th VNMC Battalion, met 
Captain Smith at Phu Bai in a Jeep. Smith was wary 

The honor guard before the main building of Vietnamese Marine Corps Headquarters 
in Saigon wears the distinctive "sea wave" camouflage uniforms, insignia, and green berets. 

Marine Corps Hisrorical Collection 



Marine Advisory Unit, 1972 

Senior Marine Advisor 

Assistant Senior Marine Advisor 

Administrative Officer 
Administrative Chief 
Administrative Man 
Administrative Man (2) 

G-l Advisor 

G-2, Recon Advisor 

Medical Advisor (USN) 

Brigade Senior Advisor 
Assistanr Senior Advisor 
Fire. Supporr Coordination 

Liaison Officers (3) 


Division Artillery Advisor 
Assistant Advisor (3) 

G-3 Advisor 

Assistant G-' Ad.isor 

Training Ad or 

Operations » ier 

Training Com nand Advisor 

Base Command Advisor 

Amphibious Support 
Battalion Advisor 










5 1 


G-4 Advisor 

Engineer Advisor 
Assistant Advisor 

Motor Transport Advisor 
Motor Transport 
Maintenance Advisor 

Supply Advisor 
Supply Chief 
Supply Man 
Supply Man (2) 

Communications Advisor 
Mainrenance Advisor 

Ordnance Advisor 

Adapted from Marine Advisory Unit Material 

as the two traveled from Phu Bai through Hue, Quang 
Tri, and Dong Ha, right up to the position where he 
was to be stationed. It seemed to be a different kind 
of tour from his first in Vietnam. 

Some Vietnamese Marine officers had been trained 
in the United States and spoke English. They had been 
in combat for years and often did not feel the need 
for an American advisor. Because of this, the Ameri- 
can Marines often felt more like a fire support coordi- 
nator than an advisor. In fact, during this period 
Colonel Joshua W. Dorsey III, who had relieved 
Colonel Francis W. Tief as senior advisor, was making 
plans to pull the advisors from the battalion level. He 
wanted to consolidate them at each brigade, thus 
forming a "liaison team" that could be responsive as 
the needs arose. 7 

'Trusted Friends' 
The Marine advisors with the battalions in the field 
had a "fairly comfortable" life. They lived in bunkers, 
slept on cots, arid shaved and bathed out of their hel- 
mets. There were kerosene lamps for light and gaso- 
line stoves which took the damp chill out of the air, 
particularly during the monsoon season with its 
penetrating cold. Rats in the bunkers, however, did 
nothing for peace of mind. Their number was cons- 
tantly multiplying, along with hordes of mosquitoes. 
One Marine advisor killed 34 rats in his area in an 

Marine advisors routinely shared the Vietnamese 
food of their counterparts' mess, which together with 
attempts to converse in Vietnamese, did more to foster 
good personal relations than anything else. Eating 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
The senior Vietnamese and American Marine leaders, in late 1971 are, from left, LtGen 
Le Nguyen Khang, Commandant of the Vietnamese Marine Corps; Col Joshua W. Dor- 
sey III, Senior Marine Advisor; and RAdm Robert S. Salzer, Commander Naval Forces 
Vietnam and the Naval Advisory Group. Col Dorsey wears the Vietnamese Marine uni- 
form with American and Vietnamese rank insignia, as typical for Marine advisors. 

Vietnamese food, however, initially could be an un- 
settling experience. "Nuoc Mam," a fermented fish 
sauce with salt added, was served with practically ev- 
ery meal as a source of protein. When of poor quali- 
ty, it had a strong, offensive smell to most foreigners. 
Luckily, battalion commanders usually had the high 
quality variety which was quite tasty. Special occasions 
called for exotic foods such as coagulated duck blood 
pudding with peanuts on top, a delicacy unknown to 
most Americans. 

Vietnamese Marine methods of food procurement 
differed from the orderly, industrialized logistical 
procedures of the USMC. The battalion commander 
was given an allocation of funds to buy food for his 
troops. He would do his purchasing in the local mar- 
kets and from individual farmers. Although the 
government provided bulk rice and canned goods, the 
preponderance of the food prepared in the battalion 
messes was obtained from the local area. When resup- 
ply runs arrived, any meat would be cooked immedi- 
ately in order to preserve it since there was no 
refrigeration. This would provide meat for the next 

few days without any problems unless it became fly- 
blown and maggot infested. Occasionally, in the 
mountain regions, a deer or a wild boar would be shot 
and find its way into the battalion's cooking pots. If 
the battalion was operating along the coast, the menu 
might include crab and other seafoods. Farm produce 
was also cheaper there than it was inland. The Ameri- 
can advisors often made contributions to their coun- 
terparts' mess by sharing packages from home. The 
results could be unpredictable. Captain Ray Smith 
recalled receiving a large can of lobster meat and turn- 
ing it over to to his counterpart's cook who was in the 
process of preparing the evening meal. Eagerly an- 
ticipating the rare delicacy, he sat down to dinner to 
find it on the menu all right . . . submerged in turnip 

Although the Americans made every effort to know 
their counterparts better by living with them and shar- 
ing their lot, they took pains not to become involved 
in certain aspects of Vietnamese military procedures. 
One such area was the administration of discipline. 
A Vietnamese Marine found guilty of an offense was 



'> •' v 

Marine Corps Historical Collecrion 

A major portion of the advisory effort was focused on training. These Vietnamese Marine 
recruits negotiate an assault course at the VNMC Training Center near Thu Due They 
are equipped with American Ml helmets, individual equipment, and Ml6 rifles. 

awarded punishment that might seem harsh to the 
observing advisor and certainly would not be found 
in the Uniform Code of Military Justice or even the 
"Rocks and Shoals" of the old Corps. It was, in short, 
immediate and corporal. Strict discipline contribut- 
ed to the high morale of the closely-knit VNMC bat- 
talions. Another positive indicator was the Marines' 
intense personal loyalty to their commanders, espe- 
cially battalion commanders. Their relationship was 
longstanding and it was not unusual for a Marine to 
have served in the same battalion for as long as 15 
years. It was only natural for the Vietnamese empha- 
sis on the family to extend into professional life. 8 
Winding Down 

During June 1971, VNMC Brigade 147 defeated 
NVA assaults during which the enemy had used tear 
gas and had reached the Marines' fighting holes* One 
U.S. Marine advisor, Captain Dennis M. Dicke, was 

""Vietnamese Marines, whose senior officers had come from the 
north, referred to their enemy as Communists or Viet Cong (Viet- 
namese Communists) and did not use the American term NVA 
(North Vietnamese Army) or the Communist's PAVN (People's Army 
of Viet Nam). 

mortally wounded on Operation Lam Son 810 while 
serving with the 7th VNMC Battalion. The outcome 
of the battle was doubtful until artillery and close air 
support turned the tide in favor of the Marines. By 
July 1971, the situation in South Vietnam seemed 
quiet enough, although Marine battalions in MR 1 
had beaten back enemy attacks during the preceding 
three months. By mid-year, however, activity had sub- 
sided and newly arrived advisors were reporting to their 
battalions in the field with a feeling that this was go- 
ing to be a quiet period indeed. 

During this time, battalions spent about three 
months in MR 1 and then rotated to Saigon for refur- 
bishing, training, and rest and recuperation with their 
families. Each of the battalions had a designated base 
camp near Saigon which served as a permanent home 
for the unit where administration, supply, and train- 
ing activities took place. In addition, many of the Ma- 
rines' families lived nearby. Upon arrival in Saigon, 
the Vietnamese Marines were granted a 10-day leave 
with their families. Often when a battalion was due 
to return north, men who had overstayed their leave 
reported in packed and ready to go. After fighting a 



long war, the advisors learned the important thing was 
to be there when the unit departed for the "front," 
and they usually were. 9 

After leave, training was the order of the day. Some 
of the training was undertaken within the base camp 
areas, while formal schools were conducted at the Viet- 
namese Marine Training Command at Thu Due, 
northeast of Saigon. This camp included recruit train- 
ing facilities, ranges, and housing to accommodate 
2,000 students simultaneously. Indoor classrooms, a 
confidence course, infiltration course, mine and boo- 
bytrap course, and a 300-meter bayonet course provid- 
ed individual training. 10 

American Marines were assigned to the training 
command to assist in the management of the instruc- 
tion program. With the withdrawal of American units 
from Vietnam, much U.S. Marine Corps equipment 
was turned over to the Vietnamese Marines. Marine 
advisors concerned themselves with teaching the 
VNMC personnel the use and care of this surplus 
equipment." On one occasion to assist this training, 

Another focus of the advisory effort was on equipment 
and maintenance training. In this instance a lance cor- 
poral from the 3d Marine Division instructs a Marine 
from the VNMC Signal Battalion in the use of com- 
munications equipment that had been provided by 
direct transfer from American stocks on Okinawa. 

Marine Carps Historical Collection 

Marine Carps Historical Collection 
RAdm Robert S. Salzer and Col Bui The lan, the As- 
sistant Commandant of the Vietnamese Marines, at- 
tach the Navy Unit Citation streamer to the 
organizational colors of the Marine Advisory Unit on 
12 August 1971, the second such award to the unit. 

the 3d Marine Division sent a mobile training team 
from Okinawa to Thu Due. This team spent six weeks 
instructing the Vietnamese in the use of the equip- 
ment left by III MAF, including 106mm recoilless ri- 
fles and multi-channel radios, the AN/MRCl62s and 
163s. These two items of equipment played impor- 
tant roles in the events which were to follow. 12 

On 12 August 1971 at 0900, Admiral Salzer, as 
Commander Naval Forces Vietnam, presented the ad- 
visory unit their second Naval Unit Commendation * 
At the same time, a major effort was being made to 
reorganize the VNMC. Historically, the involvement 
of American Marines had been on the battalion lev- 
el, giving tactical advice to their counterparts in the 
field. Colonel Dorsey wanted to shift the emphasis of 
the U.S. Marine advisors from one of rendering tacti- 
cal advice to one of resource management. 

Colonel Dorsey hoped to accomplish two major ob- 
jectives during 1972. Together with Major Donald B. 
Conaty, the G-3 advisor to the VNMC Division, 
Colonel Dorsey worked to foster a greater sense of uni- 
ty between the Vietnamese Navy and the VNMC in 
order to build a viable amphibious assault team. Their 
chief aim was to have the division plan and execute 
a brigade-size landing. They also planned to organize 
and use tactical operations centers (TOC) at the 
brigade as well as division level. These centers would 

*For the period of I July 1969 to 1 July 1971, extended through 
31 December 1971 in lieu of a third award. 





Photo courcesy of Col John W. Ripley, USMC 
A battery of Vietnamese Marine 105mm howitzers in Military Region 1, deployed in sup- 
port of a VNMC brigade in late 1971. The lack, of prepared positions and defenses indi- 
cates that this was a temporary position and away from any Communist counterfire. 

include a fire support coordination center (FSCC) 
capable of coordinating artillery, air strikes, and naval 
gunfire. Finally, a division command post exercise was 
to be conducted to test each aspect of the reorganiza- 
tion. To this point, the VNMC had not operated as 
a division-level force and lacked necessary command 
and control personnel and equipment. Even though 
a VNMC division headquarters had been committed 
in Laos during Operation Lam Son 719, there was very 
little command experience above the brigade level. 13 

Along the DMZ 

South Vietnamese defenses along the Demilitarized 
Zone consisted of a string of positions developed in 
part from the previous American defenses oriented 
along the main avenues of approach from the north 
and the west. These stretched from the coast, inland 
across National Highway 1 (QL-1), turning south across 
Highway 9, and tied in with a string of fire support 
bases guarding the the highland valley approaches 
from the west. American Marines recalled this as the 
"Leatherneck Square" bounded by Gio Linh, Con 
Thien, Cam Lo, and Dong Ha. Now these locations 
were known by Vietnamese names or more anonymous 

alpha-numeric appellations. On 6 October 1971, a U.S. 
Army liaison team from MACV arrived at Alpha 4 
(Con Thien) to inspect the position before the newly 
formed 3d ARVN Division assumed responsibility for 
the DMZ. The 1st ARVN Division, which had tacti- 
cal responsibility for the DMZ, was scheduled to dis- 
place south in early November. MACV Advisory Team 
155, under Colonel Donald J. Metcalf, USA, the senior 
advisor, was tasked with providing American support 
to the commanding general of the 3d ARVN Divi- 
sion. Team 155, which was primarily billeted at Quang 
Tri, consisted of more than 200 men. Of this num- 
ber, less than 20 U.S. Army advisors were actually in 
the field with ARVN units. With its hot food, bar, 
and showers, Team 155 was an oasis to the US. Ma- 
rines serving with the VNMC in northern MR l. 14 
Throughout this period there had been occasional 
enemy contact, generally of platoon size, but no major 
enemy encounters. On 23 October 1971, elements of 
the 4th VNMC Battalion made contact with an esti- 
mated enemy platoon east of Alpha 4. In the result- 
ing action three Vietnamese Marines were wounded. 
In spite of a raging rain storm, an Army helicopter 
piloted by First Lieutenant Scott Livingston, USA, flew 



in to evacuate the wounded Marines. The weather was 
so bad that, on the returning leg, the helicopter was 
forced down at Mai Loc Combat Base where it had to 
remain overnight. According to Major Boomer, the 
wounded Marines were evacuated the next morning 
in spite of the fact that ". . . helicopters don't fly in 
weather like that." 15 On a lighter note, on 10 Novem- 
ber 1971, all the American Marines in the north 
gathered at Charlie 1 to join with Marines all over the 
world in celebrating the 196th birthday of the Corps. 
Birthday cakes were flown up from Saigon and the 
Vietnamese Marines joined in the big celebration. 
There was plenty of beer for everyone, but the cake 
made a number of Marines sick. 16 

Activity along the DMZ was almost at a standstill. 
It was an ideal time to consolidate the advisors at the 
brigade level, but as Colonel Dorsey remembered: 

. , . something was going on; particularly up north there 
was a feeling of foreboding. The fire support bases were at 
minimum strength, whereas the USMC had these same bases 
fully manned. The ARVN strength was insufficient, and they 
were not actively patrolling, although the VNMC did a 
little — but not enough. I couldn't help but feel that some- 
thing was going to happen. It seemed like a charade. The 
weather was bad; it was really cold. The FSBs [fire support 
bases] were socked in," 

The weather was indeed terrible along the DMZ. It 

In contrast to the previous picture, along the forward 
edge of the South Vietnamese defensive arc below the 
Demilitarized Zone were prepared defensive positions. 
This is the outpost at Gio Linh, defending QLl. 
Photo courtesy of LtCol George Philip III, USMC (Ret) 

was miserably cold and everybody, including the North 
Vietnamese Army was preoccupied in trving to keep 
warm and dry. Major Boomer, with the 4th VNMC 
Battalion, said he never had been so cold in his life. 
He was having some second thoughts on why, when 
given a choice of assignments upon arriving at Saigon, 
he had chosen an infantry battalion instead of a staff 
job at division headquarters. It was tough, but it would 
get tougher. Factors other than the weather were slat- 
ed to deteriorate. 

A significant attack occurred on the night of 12 De- 
cember 1971, 3,000 meters to the east of Charlie 3. 
The NVA failed in their assault of a Regional Force 
company, losing 17 men in the process. The next 
morning the dead NVA soldiers were laid out in Cam 
Lo village. From that time on, the road from Cam Lo 
to Charlie 2 did not seem quite so secure. On 21 De- 
cember, just after the 5th VNMC Battalion, with 
Major Donald L. Price as senior advisor, replaced the 
4th VNMC Battalion, the enemy fired more incom- 
ing rounds on the newcomers than the 4th battalion 
had received all that fall. 18 Late one evening, Major 
Price and Captain Marshall R. "Skip" Wells looked 
north into the DMZ and observed the sparkle of sig- 
nal flares, assuming that even the NVA had "to train 
before an offensive." 19 

Major Robert F. Sheridan, senior advisor to the 
VNMC Brigade 369, expressed his concern at this time 
to brigade commander Colonel Pham Van Chung 
about the lack of mobility resulting from maintain- 
ing fixed locations. Colonel Chung, who had a repu- 
tation as an outstanding commander who used his 
staff and appreciated his American advisors, conduct- 
ed battalion-size operations west of Highway 9- Two 
consecutive sweeps from the Rockpile south to the Ba 
Long Valley revealed no sign of the enemy, but they 
were indeed out there; Major Sheridan even talked to 
one of them on Christmas Eve. 

The Marine advisors had two channels of commu- 
nications: at brigade, the advisor had an AN/MRC83 
radio Jeep which he used for his twice -weekly checks 
with advisory unit headquarters in Saigon. The other 
channel was the local "Gunga Din" network which 
linked the advisors in the local area. Although it was 
a secure net utilizing the tactical cryptographic device, 
the KY38, the Marines would usually transmit in the 
clear mode as they conversed over the "party" line. It 
was quicker and used less power from the radios' bat- 
teries. After the nightly electronic "advisor conference" 
on 25 December 1971, Major Sheridan wished all a 
Merry Christmas. To everyone's surprise an Asian voice 



Photo courtesy of Maj Charles W. King, USMC (Ret) 
In November 1971, the 3d ARVN Division and Viet- 
namese Marine units were responsible for the defenses 
along the northern border. The division commander, 
BGen Vu Van Giai, is shown at Fire Support Base 
Charlie 1 with the VNMC Brigade 369 commander, 
Col Pham Van Chung, and two American advisors, 
on the occasion of the U.S. Marine Corps Birthday. 

in perfect English came up on the air and replied, 
"Merry Chtistmas to you," and this general conversa- 
tion followed: 

S: Who is this? 

NVA: Oh, I listen ro you all the rime. Where are you? Mai 

Lot? Sarge? oi Fuller? 
S: I can't tell you where I am. 

NVA: You are American Marine. Why don't you go home? 
S: I'll go home when you guys go home. 
NVA: Well, maybe we will all go home some day. Are you 

S: Yes, 

NVA: How many children do you have? 
S: Too many. 

NVA: That's good. I have five girls in Hanoi which I haven't 

seen in nine months. 
S: Maybe the next time you go to Hanoi you can make a boy 

Both laughed and then talked about the poor weather. 
Finally the enemy signed off with, "I must go now. 
Merry Christmas! I hope the war ends soon." Yes, the 
enemy was out there, and furthermore he was listen- 
ing, so deficient communications security took on a 
whole new meaning. 30 

By January 1972, the 3d ARVN Division had 
responsibility fot everything north of Highway 9, in- 
cluding Dong Ha and Fire Support Base Fuller. The 
division commander, Brigadier General Vu Van Giai, 
visited his troops in the field every day. General Giai's 
U.S. Army advisors were oriented on training and logis- 
tics and were not present at units below the regimen- 

tal level. Giai also dropped in on the VNMC units, 
which were under his operational control and orient- 
ed to the west of Quang Hi. He seemed to enjoy speak- 
ing in English with the Marine advisors. 

The 3d ARVN Division, newly formed and occupy- 
ing unfamiliar terrain, was beset with many problems. 
The ARVN soldiers, a mix of varied quality, were un- 
trained as a unit. Lieutenant Colonel William C. Cam- 
per, USA, a MACV Team 155 advisor with the 2d 
ARVN Regiment, observed that "we were getting col- 
lege students who had evaded the draft for long peri- 
ods, also interpreters who had worked for US. forces." 
These were "big-city slickers" who did not compare 
to the average ARVN soldier ftom a rural background. 
Camper concluded, "they definitely had an effect on 
morale and adequacy of training." 21 

On 27 January 1972, aUSAF gun ship, patrolling 
Highway 9 to Khe Sanh, was shot down at 5,000 feet, 
right over the Khe Sanh air strip, by an SA-2 missile. 
During February, enemy activity started to pick up to 
the west. Fire Support Base Fullet was hit with rocket 
fire almost daily. Both the outpost at Nui Ba Ho and 
FSB Sarge, along with Fuller, started reporting ground 
contacts. South Vietnamese troops in the vicinity of 
the Rockpile, north of Highway 9, reported hearing 
tracked vehicles and trucks moving at night. Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Camper recalled that he accompanied 
an air cavalry "Pink Team" in a Hughes OH-6 Cayuse 
("Loach") helicopter, landing in several locations be- 
hind the Rockpile, finding "fresh tracks from tracked 
vehicles in a number of locations," but seeing no ene- 
my troops and receiving no enemy fire* 

Ditectives and warnings from Saigon required a 
high state of readiness during Tet, the national holi- 
day period celebrating the lunar new year. Both MACV 
and ARVN staffs predicted that the North Vietnamese 
would challenge Vietnamization in 1972. General Wil- 
liam C. Westmoreland, as Chief of Staff of the U.S. 
Army, had visited South Vietnam in early 1972 on be- 
half of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 
the Secretary of Defense. After touring all four mili- 
tary regions and talking with Army General Creighton 
W. Abrams and Chairman of the Vietnamese Joint 
General Staff, General Cao Van Vien, he concluded 
they were confident "that they can handle the situa- 
tion" that existed. 23 

Communist troop buildups were identified along 

*U.S. Army Pink Teams were composed of five helicopters, Two 
OH-6 "Loach" light observation helicopters acted as scouts while 
two Bell AH-1 Cobra gunships provided an attack capability. A UH-1 
provided the flight's command and control. 



the DMZ and Laotian border areas west of Quang Tri 
and Thua Thien Provinces. The North Vietnamese 
genera] high command had organized a corps-level 
headquarters to carryout the attack on South Vietnam's 
MR 1. Identified as the Tri Thien Hue Front with the 
702d Command Group Headquarters, it crossed over 
previous front and military region boundaries to un- 
dertake the Spring Offensive. It was commanded by 
MajGen Le Trong Tan and his political deputy Le 
Quang Doa. This coincided with a multidivision threat 
in the tri-border region west of Pleiku * Like most in- 
telligence predictions, the questions of when, where, 
and in what strength were left to local commanders 
to determine. American commanders and advisors in 
MR 1 were directed by General Abrams to determine 
likely avenues of approach and assembly areas to pre- 
plan Arc Light strikes, as he wanted "no delays due 
to targeting procedures when the time comes to go 
with these strikes." 23 

Other reports indicated that big guns were being 
moved west of the Marines' positions and groups of 
20 to 30 enemy were observed moving openly during 
the daytime. 24 Incidents of road mining were being 
reported. Captain George Philip III, advisor to the 1st 
VNMC Artillery Battalion, narrowly escaped death 
from a vehicle mine detonation. While returning to 
the battalion command post and instead of crossing 
a bridge just south of Mai Loc, he drove his jeep into 
the stream to wash it. A vehicle full of ARVN artillery 
officers drove over the bridge Captain Philip had 
delayed crossing. The bridge exploded, killing them 
all. This incident was cause for instituting the "two- 
jeep" policy which made it mandatory for at least two 
vehicles to move in convoy at all times in case of an 
enemy ambush or mine incidents. 25 

On 5 March 1972, the South Vietnamese began an 
operation to clear the area around Fire Support Base 
Bastogne, east of Hue City, and met heavy resistance 
from elements of the 324B NVA Division. This gener- 
ated a flurry of response by B-52 "Arc Light" bomb- 
ings and tactical air sorties, but the appearance here 
of NVA troops was not seen as part of a concerted buil- 
dup of forces in MR 1. Indications were that the main 

*At the American Embassy was Edwin W. Besch, a medically re- 
tired Marine captain, who followed the activities of NVA and VNMC 
units as an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. 
He recalled that, "in fact, the first firm indication of the impend- 
ing offensive in South Vietnam was the infiltration into the western 
highlands of the i20tb NVA Division" from north of the DMZ in 
January 1972, followed by the 2d NVA Division from Laos. (Besch 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A193103 
The senior South Vietnamese commander for Military 
Region 1 had both political and military responsibili- 
ties. LtGen Hoang Xuan Lam held this position from 
1966. His American "advisor" in 1972 was U.S. Army 
MajGen Frederick J. Kroesen, Jr., commanding 
the 1st Regional Assistance Command at Da Nang. 

threat was directed at MR 2. This was the prevailing 
view held by MACV and the American Embassy in 
Saigon. 36 The Vietnamese I Corps commander, Lieu- 
tenant General Hoang Xuan Lam, and his latest 
American counterpart, Major General Frederick J. 
Kroesen, Jr., USA, commanding the newly formed 1st 
Regional Assistance Command, viewed the situation 
with concern.** Dispositions by the 3d ARVN Divi- 
sion and the VNMC units in MR 1 remained around 
key terrain and avenues of approach along Highway 
9 from the west, from where the North Vietnamese 
threat had come in the past. Although the positions 
along the DMZ had always been within range of ar- 
tillery, they were not considered worthy of a conven- 
tional attack by combined arms. 27 

During the last week in March, VNMC patrols in 
Quang Tri Province began finding caches of mortar 
and B-40 rocket rounds. People were spotted moving 
supplies and a Vietnamese was captured in the Ba 
Long Valley carrying mortar rounds. By this time ev- 
ery friendly location that had an artillery position was 

**FRAC was established on 19 March 1<>72. 




North Vietnamese Array Photo 
By this time in the war, the main threat to the South Vietnamese and the Americans 
came from the full-time soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army. This mortar units hair- 
cuts, uniforms, and training were those of a conventional force rather than insurgents. 

receiving enemy incoming artillery and rocket rounds 
regularly. The U.S. Air Force and Navy flew support 
missions every day, weather permitting, but many 
times during the day visibility was almost zero. The 
U.S. Army's 8th Radio Research Field Station (Sth 
RRFS) at Phu Bai reported that a NVA artillery head- 
quarters was located only six kilometers southwest of 
Fire Support Base Sarge. 

From Sarge, Major Boomer had briefed General Giai 
on everything the Marines had been seeing and their 
concern over the buildup of enemy forces. Boomer pro- 
posed offensive action west of Sarge in the belief that 
this would provide "more accurate information on the 
enemy's intentions and possibly disrupt his plans." 

General Giai "casually dismissed" this proposal. 28 
Major Boomer, in retrospect, said that it was obvious 
that the enemy was stockpiling ammunition and sup- 
plies at the base of the hill on which FSB Sarge was 
located. By now, enemy contacts and artillery fire "grew 
heavier," and it was clear that a major enemy buildup 
was taking place. 

On 28 March 1972, an NVA soldier noted that he 
was with a unit "in a staging area in the jungle very 
close to the enemy. In spite of his daily patrols, the 
latter is unaware .... We take advantage of a heavy 
downpour to cross the Ba Long River." His objective 
was the cloud-shrouded firebase "Dong Toan," known 
to the Americans as Sarge. 29 



The Ring of Steel 

Turley with Team 155 -The Opening Round— Team 155 Under Fire -The Outposts Ml 
At the Combat Base at Ai Tu-VNMC Brigade 258 Reinforces -Enemy in the Wire, 31 March 1972 
Fire Support Base Sarge Holds On -The Collapse of the Ring of Steel 

Tut ey with Team 155 

Recently assigned as Assistant Senior Marine Advi- 
sor (ASMA) with the Naval Advisory Group, Vietnam, 
Lieutenant Colonel Gerald H. "Gerry" Turley was 
eager to get to Quang Tri Province to pay a visit to 
the two VNMC origades, 147 and 258, under the oper- 
ational control of the 3d ARVN Division. After two 
weeks of orien-ition in Saigon, Turley arrived at the 
Ai Tu Comba, Base on 29 March 1972 by helicopter, 
drove out to the Mai Loc Combat Base, and spent the 
night with VNMC Brigade 147. The brigade, with 
Major Jim R.Joy as senior advisor, was responsible for 
the western segment of the 3d ARVN Division's area 
of operations. Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Nang Bao, 
brigade commander, told Lieutenant Colonel Turley 
that Mai Loc had not received any incoming artillery 
for almost two years. It was a peaceful night and a 
pleasant change of pace from garrison duty in Saigon. 1 

The next morning Lieutenant Colonel Turley was 
unable to go by helicopter to the brigade's outposts 
because of poor flying weather and returned to the 
3d ARVN Division command post at Ai Tu, accom- 
panied by Major Joy. During the course of the morning 
Turley received briefings from MACV Advisory Team 
155 on the disposition of forces, the state of readiness 
of division units, and American support available — 
although practically all American combat units had 
been withdrawn from Vietnam. The Army briefing 
revealed that the 3d ARVN Division was a newly con- 
stituted and untested organization. It had been in ex- 
istence for less than six months and did not represent a 
significant increase of combat power to I Corps. The 
division, activated on 1 November 1971, had complet- 
ed the organization of its infantry regiments only the 
month before. One of its three infantry regiments 
manning the northern front had been operating as a 
unit for only the last three weeks. Short of equipment 
and not fully organized or trained, the 3d ARVN Di- 
vision was unready for combat. Even so, Brigadier Gen- 
eral Vu Van Giai's aggressiveness, professionalism, and 
depth of combat experience had won him the respect 
of the U.S. Marine advisors and had created a sense 
of confidence and self-assurance among his soldiers. 
The division, with the 2d, 56th, and 57th ARVN 

Regiments, had its headquarters at Ai Tu, between 
Dong Ha and Quang Tri City. In fact, at the very mo- 
ment of Lieutenant Colonel Turley 's briefing, the 56th 
and the 2d ARVN Regiments were administratively 
exchanging areas of operations. 2 The 56th was replac- 
ing the 2d at Camp Carroll, Khe Gio, and Fire Sup- 
port Base Fuller, while the 2d simultaneously relieved 
the 56th at Alpha 4, Charlie 2, and Charlie 3. At 
Camp Carroll was a composite artillery group of 26 
pieces ranging from 105mm howitzers to 175mm self- 
propelled guns. Included in this group was a battery 
of VNMC 105mm howitzers. The 57th Regiment's area 
of operations covered the rest of the northern front 
extending from Dong Ha, northward to the DMZ. Fire 
support bases included in its area were Alpha 1, Al- 
pha 2, and Alpha 3, with regimental headquarters at 
Charlie 1. The area to the east of QL-1 to the Gulf 
of Tonkin, was nominally under the control of the 
Quang Tri Province chief and his local forces. 

In the VNMC Brigade 147 area were outposts at Nui 
Ba Ho and Sarge held by the 4th VNMC Battalion, 
along with two companies of the 8th VNMC Battal- 

Marine and Army advisors were present with South 
Vietnamese forces along the Demilitarized Zone when 
the Spring Offensive began. On the left, LtCol Ger- 
ald H. Turley confers with another Marine advisor. The 
U.S. Army lieutenant colonel in the background il- 
lustrates the different uniforms in use at the time. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 




ion operating in the vicinity of Fire Support Base Hol- 
comb, forming the western flank of the defensive arc. 
All three positions were on dominant terrain features 
overlooking the natural avenues of approach from the 
Laotian border. Sarge and Nui Ba Ho overlooked 
Highway 9, the east-west route which the French had 
built and the U.S. forces had improved during their 
stay. Fire Support Base Holcomb overlooked the beau- 
tiful Ba Long Valley through which the Thach Han 
River flows. The other brigade, VNMC Brigade 258, 
was at Fire Support Bases Nancy and Barbara to the 
south. 3 General Lam, commanding I Corps, which en- 
compassed the five northernmost provinces of South 
Vietnam, had called the disposition of the 3d ARVN 
Division on fixed combat bases his "ring of steel."' 1 
Other familiarization briefings for Lieutenant 
Colonel Turley included such subjects as sensor place- 
ments and reporting, special radio and intelligence 
networks, and the combat support available from the 
U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. They were good brief- 
ings; Turley was to realize their value a few hours later. 
He was anxious to return to Saigon, but the briefings 
and poor flying weather had taken up the morning. 
His return would have to wait until after lunch at the 
well-appointed Team 155 dining facility. 

The Opening Round 
Combat outposts Sarge and Nui Ba Ho, occupied 
by the 4th VNMC Battalion, stood astride the histor- 
ic invasion routes into Quang Tri Province and Hue 
City. Major Walt Boomer was with the battalion com- 
mander, Major Tran Xuan Quang, and the "Alpha" 
group on Sarge and Captain Ray Smith was on Nui 
Ba Ho with the "Bravo" group of the battalion* Out- 
post Nui Ba Ho was actually two positions, Nui Ba 
Ho and Ba Ho East. The formidable hill mass rose 
abruptly from the valley floor and its slopes were so 
steep that, as Captain Smith recalled, "no one ever 
climbed to the top just for the fun of it." The top of 
the hill was so small that a UH-1E helicopter could 
barely land, while larger helicopters could not land 
there at all. At approximately 1030 on 30 March 1972, 
a platoon patrol from the 1st VNMC Company on Ba 
Ho East made contact with an enemy platoon 1,000 
meters northwest of Nui Ba Ho. Moments later, the 
8th VNMC Battalion, operating in the vicinity of Hol- 
comb, also reported making contact with the enemy. 

*It was common practice for the Vietnamese Marine Corps ro 
divide its infantry battalions into two command groups, each con- 
trolling two reinforced rifle companies. The battalion commander, 
with the senior advisor, headed the Alpha group, while the execu- 
rive officer, with the assistant advisor, was with the Bravo group. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 
LtCol Nguyen Nang Bao led VNMC Brigade 147 at 
Mai Loc. He was promoted to colonel in June and con- 
tinued as brigade commander. A native of North Viet- 
nam, he was a 19-year veteran, and had attended U.S. 
Marine basic course and command and staff college. 

As these engagements progressed, NVA 120mm and 
130mm artillery, firing from positions to the west, 
struck Mai Loc and Camp Carroll. The fire was so in- 
tense that the South Vietnamese were unable to man 
their guns and provide counterbattery or supporting 
fires. Under this protective umbrella, the NVA infan- 
try boldly advanced on the Marine positions. 

Shortly after 1100, Captain Smith saw three com- 
pany-sized NVA units advancing on the base of Nui 
Ba Ho. They were "marching in mass formation, right 
across Highway 9, at sling arms." These units were 
acutely vulnerable to friendly artillery fire but none 
was then available. Heavy cloud cover and accompany- 
ing low visibility along the entire DMZ also prevented 
use of close air support, although airborne forward air 
controllers were on station. 5 Smith, who was one of 
the few advisors fluent in Vietnamese, was listening to 
the enemy artillery fire direction net. Smith deter- 
mined that the NVA were shooting destruction mis- 
sions with adjustments to within five meters, some very 
precise shooting. Since all South Vietnamese locations 
were well known to the enemy, devastating fire now 
fell on all positions and particularly on the fire sup- 
port bases. 

Team 155 Under Fire 
During his noon meal, Lieutenant Colonel Turley 
sat with Major James E. Smock, USA, the senior U.S. 



Army advisor to the 20th ARVN Tank Battalion of the 
1st ARVN Armored Brigade. This was the only oper- 
ational ARVN battalion equipped with U.S. M48 tanks 
in South Vietnam. The 20th Tank Battalion had just 
completed training and had not yet fired a shot in 
anger. 8 

Coming out of the dining hall at noon on 30 March 
1972, Lieutenant Colonel Turley heard the all-too- 
familiar swishing-sound of incoming artillery rounds 
followed by their impact in the Ai Tu perimeter. 
Although he did not realize it at the time, it became 
evident that the North Vietnamese had launched a 
well-coordinated, well-planned, three-pronged infan- 
try attack across the entire Quang Tri frontier. More 
than 12,000 rounds of enemy rocket, mortar, and ar- 
tillery fire prepared the way for the largest NVA offen- 
sive into South Vietnam. Supported by Soviet and 
Chinese-built tanks and artillery, some 25,000 North 
Vietnamese infantry attacked across the Demilitarized 
Zone with such rapidity and shock that the men fac- 
ing the onslaught were stunned. Every outpost and 
fire support base along the DMZ under the command 
of the 3d ARVN Division was taken under accurate 
and devastating fire. Perhaps it was, as higher head- 
quarters put it, "only a feint," but the quiet period 
was over and the "feint" was to continue unabated for 
the next six days. Realizing that he would be unable 
to return to Saigon with the airfield under fire, Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Turley, with Captain John D. 
Murray— an advisor with VNMC Brigade 147, left be- 
hind when Major Joy made his way back to Mai Loc 
with the opening rounds— ran to the tactical opera- 
tions center to keep abreast of the situation and to 
assist Team 155 as best they could. 

The artillery preparation, which had begun precisely 
at noon, was followed by infantry attacks involving 
units of the }04tb, 308th, and 324B NVA Divisions, 
five infantry regiments of the B-5 Front, three artillery 
regiments, two tank regiments, and several sapper bat- 
talions.* 7 The fledgling 3d ARVN Division met this 
onslaught with five regiments of infantry, including 
two VNMC brigades, nine battalions of artillery, ar- 
mor, and ranger forces. The enemy had a numerical 

*B5 front: 27th Infantry Regiment; iht Infantry Regiment, 126th 
Infantry Regiment; 246th Infantry Regiment; 38th Artillery Regi- 
ment; 84th Artillery Regiment; 202d Armor Regiment; 203d Ar- 
mor Regiment. 304th NVA Division: 9th Infantry Regiment; 24th 
Infantry Regiment; 66th Infantry Regiment. 308th NVA Division: 
36th Infantry Regiment; 88th Infantry Regiment; I02dlnfantry Regi- 
ment. 324B NVA Division: 29th Infantry Regiment; 803dlnfantry 
Regiment; 812th Infantry Regiment. 

advantage of more than three to one and overwhelmed 
the ill-trained and equipped defenders. 

Although the intelligence agencies of the military 
commanders, both U.S. and ARVN, had expected a 
major confrontation during 1972, the bold and sud- 
den thrust directly across the DMZ was neither predict- 
ed nor expected.** In fact, when a speculative question 
of a possible NVA attack directly across the DMZ was 
posed to General Lam, he replied, "They cannot!" His 
reply was not one of arrogance, but was based on past 
experience. This had been, and was, a war of guerrilla 
activity and attrition, with major confrontations, such 
as Tet in 1968, occurring only after months of inten- 
sive preparation and stockpiling. Besides, it would be 
illogical for the enemy to attack openly across a coastal 
piedmont region, fully exposed to American air pow- 
er, long-range artillery, and all-weather naval guns. In 
addition, the South Vietnamese forces in that area 
were firmly entrenched on critical terrain features fac- 
ing the classic avenues of invasion. In the minds of 
both the ARVN and U.S. commanders a massive at- 
tack by the NVA across the entire DMZ, and especial- 
ly its eastern portion, was unthinkable. 8 

It did seem feasible that an attack, an end run, 
could come from the west. The allies had long detect- 
ed enemy movements in western Quang Tri Province 
and patrols west of the Rockpile often heard 
mechanized activity. Additionally, enemy unit move- 
ments were covered by an appreciable buildup of sup- 
porting antiaircraft guns. On this basis, intelligence 
evaluators had predicted a limited attack and infiltra- 
tion from the west and had suggested February 1972 
as the likely month. But the allies had no plan to de- 
fend against a conventional combined arms invasion 
and had not fortified their static positions against such 
an assault. Knowledge of the enemy's past performance 
and capabilities simply did not point toward such an 
eventuality. The fixed outposts and fire support bases, 
although deteriorating to some extent, had served 
satisfactorily both the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army over 
the past five years and appeared well-placed to coun- 
ter enemy infiltration and harassing tactics from the 
north and west. All this analysis became academic. As 

"""The use of the 304th NVA Division and 308th NVA Division 
across the DMZ indicated a major effort. Both commands had fought 
at Dien Bien Phu against the Ftench in 1954, and were considered 
"Iron Divisions." A recent North Vietnamese publication stated 
"Quang Tri— Thua Thien was chosen to be rhe main focus of the 
offensive." (Tap So Do Cat. Tran Danh [Hanoi, Minisrry of Defense, 
1986], p. 18, as translated by Robert J. Destatte). (Vietnam Com- 
ment File) 



Base Areas 

Main Attacks 

Secondary Attacks 





North Vietnamese Invasion 
of South Vietnam 


25 50 J5 

Adapted from Government of Vietnam Material 



North Vietnamese Army Photo 
Division and front-heavy artillery units prepared the way for the Communist offensive 
by disrupting the South Vietnamese defenses and command structure. North Vietnamese 
Army gunners prepare to shoot 122mm field guns that fire as far as 23,900 meters. 

The Mai Loc combat base served as Marine brigade headquarters in Military Region 1. 
When the offensive began, it was occupied by VNMC Brigade 147. The fiat, low-lying 
terrain did not offer protection from the concentrated artillery fire of the Communists. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 





the thunder of massed artillery smothered the now ex- 
posed division headquarters, it also hindered the hasty 
preparations of the South Vietnamese and American 
advisors to counter the new threat to MR l. B 

The Outposts Fall 

While Nui Ba Ho was under attack by the 9th NVA 
Regiment, the Alpha command group on Sarge, only 
2,000 meters to the south, began receiving a heavy 
artillery barrage. More than 500 rounds of accurate fire 
killed 15 Vietnamese Marines the first day. Major 
Boomer continuously moved along the exposed face 
of the mountaintop trying to locate the enemy guns 
firing from across Highway 9 to the northwest. In spite 
of the heavy fire hitting Camp Carroll and Mai Loc, 
he was able to call in some counterbattery missions 
which he credited with the destruction of several ene- 
my gun positions. The adverse weather kept U.S. Air 
Force fighter- bombers at Da Nang and carrier-based 
aircraft in the South China Sea from responding in 
support of the Marines on the battered hilltop. 

A direct hit destroyed the bunker which housed spe- 
cial equipment for monitoring enemy radio nets. At 
the command bunker, losing contact with the two U.S. 
Army operators, Major Boomer moved outside to dis- 
cover that the radio facility had collapsed and was 
burning. He approached the inferno in a vain attempt 
to rescue the soldiers, but quickly realized there were 
no survivors. 10 

A Communist perspective of the South Vietnamese 
outpost Sarge on 30 March 1972. According to them, 
the position's location and defenses were not an ob- 
stacle to North Vietnamese Army "shock fighters." 

North Vietnamese Army Photo 

Because of the small size of the hilltop on Nui Ba 
Ho, the enemy's larger caliber guns had difficulty zero- 
ing in on the Marine position. By the middle of the 
afternoon, however, 82mm mortars had been moved 
into firing positions by the NVA infantry and were do- 
ing heavy damage. The only counterbattery fire came 
from the battalion's sole 60mm mortar on the posi- 
tion. While engaged in serving this weapon, every 
member of the Marine mortar crew was either killed 
or wounded. 

At 1700, a platoon outpost 600 meters to the north 
of Nui Ba Ho came under intense small arms and 
rocket-propelled grenade fire. The Marine defenders 
repelled three "human wave" ground attacks with 
small arms, M79 grenade launchers, and hand 
grenades. Simultaneously, the enemy assaulted the 
squad outpost on the south side of Nui Ba Ho. A 
106mm recoilless rifle on Nui Ba Ho fired a flechette 
round in support of the southern squad, but the 
weapon malfunctioned before a second round could 
be fired * As darkness fell the enemy, having failed 
to dislodge the defenders, pulled back and harassed 
the Marines with artillery. During the night the ene- 
my continued to maneuver into position for an attack 
the following morning. 

At the Combat Base at Ai Tu 

Lieutenant Colonel Turley and Captain Murray, anx- 
ious to learn the fate of the Marine-held positions un- 
der attack on 30 March 1972, had remained at the 3d 
ARVN Division tactical operations center. The oper- 
ations center, jointly manned by ARVN personnel and 
MACV Advisory Team 155 members, was receiving 
reports of enemy contact throughout its entire area 
of operations. Naval Gunfire Team "1-2," with First 
Lieutenant Joel B. Eisenstein in charge, and a U.S. Air 
Force tactical air control liaison team were situated wi- 
thin the TOC. They provided command and control 
communications links to the maneuver units, but the 
artillery fire that slashed through the TOC "antenna 
farm" rendered the ARVN communications system in- 

As Lieutenant Colonel Turley and Captain Murray 
became more involved in the TOC, coordination 
problems became evident. Looking toward a weekend 
with his family in the Philippines, Colonel Donald 
J. Metcalf, the senior advisor, had left for Saigon as 

*Flechette rounds were anti-personnel projectiles which discharged 
thousands of tiny steel darts. The flechettes looked like finishing 
nails with four fins stamped on their bases. They were deadly when 
used against "human wave" attacks. 



the initial rounds fell upon Ai Tu. Murray recalled that 
no contingency plans were implemented, administra- 
tive radio messages cut out tactical nets, logs and jour- 
nals were not maintained, no coordinating efforts were 
made between Team 155 and its ARVN counterparts, 
and the senior MACV Advisory Team 155 officer 
present, Major James Davis, was collapsing from fa- 
tigue." Turley and Murray, neither in the ARVN or 
MACV chain-of-command, but both eager to get in- 
volved in the war, moved to help the Assistant G-3 
Advisor, Major Davis. The Marine officers noted that 
by evening on 30 March, U.S. Army support person- 
nel of Team 155 were openly packing their belong- 
ings, preparing for departure. 

VNMC Brigade 258 Reinforces 

At 1400, 30 March 1972, General Giai ordered Viet- 
namese Marine Brigade 258, with Major Jon T. Easley 
as the senior advisor, to displace it's 3d, 6th, and 7th 
Infantry and artillery battalions northward from Fire 
Support Bases Nancy and Barbara along the My Chanh 
River. The Marine battalions were moved to reinforce 
the northern defensive line and to assume overall secu- 
rity for the Dong Ha area and the Highway 9 and 
Highway 1 road junction. This shift left the division's 
southwest flank exposed to possible enemy action. Just 
at dusk, the brigade command group, the 3d VNMC 
Infantry Battalion, and the 3d VNMC Artillery Bat- 
talion headed north up QL-1, unaware of the tactical 
situation. As they drove through the night, they passed 
elements of the 20th ARVN Tank Battalion all along 
the road. The tankers had just completed a command 
post field exercise and were considered qualified for 
combat. It was reassuring for the brigade's Marines to 
move past the newly acquired American-built M48 
battle tanks. 12 

On the morning of 31 March, Colonel Metcalf ar- 
rived back at the 3rd Division TOC. He asked Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Turley to assume the duties of senior 
American advisor within the operations center in place 
of the exhausted Major Davis. Colonel Metcalf want- 
ed to stay with General Giai and Lieutenant Colonel 
Normand Heon, USA, the Team 155 assistant senior 
advisor, was required to select and prepare a less ex- 
posed command post south of the Thach Han River 
in Quang Tri City. In addition, Turley had already 
been helping and was abreast of the tactical situation. 

Turley initially balked at this request. He realized 
that he was from a different service advisory chain-of- 
command, and that his visit had placed him in the 
Ai Tu TOC strictly as an interested, but detached, ob- 

server. Then considering the urgency for continuity in 
such a rapidly changing and confusing period, he com- 
plied with Colonel Metcalfs request. Turley s priori- 
ties at the moment were to stop the enemy attack and 
stabilize a badly deteriorated situation. Consequent- 
ly, he directed that the TOC query all U.S. combat 
support units with which it had communications as 
to possible assistance. Insistent calls went out to the 
1st Regional Assistance Command in Da Nang, and 
to U.S. naval gunfire support ships offshore. Turley also 
opened a journal to include the events occurring wi- 
thin the 3d ARVN Division's operations area* 

Enemy in the Wire, 31 March 1972 

At first light, 31 March, the enemy made a mass 
assault on the northern section of Nui Ba Ho. A Ma- 
rine 106mm recoilless rifle on the northern slope, fir- 
ing flechette rounds into the formation, was 
instrumental in stopping the enemy at the perimeter. 
The NVA withdrew leaving an estimated 100 dead on 
the wire. At 1000, having stopped three more ground 
probes, the Marines on Nui Ba Ho were hit by 130mm 
artillery rounds. This time the fire was more accurate. 
Trench lines and bunkers began to collapse. At approx- 
imately 1500 the determined enemy unleashed a mas- 
sive ground attack up the northern slope from the 
saddle between Nui Ba Ho and Ba Ho East. The in- 
tegrity and mutual support of the two positions was 
destroyed, but not without its price; the outer band 
of barbed wire was completely covered by NVA bod- 
ies. Meanwhile, 75mm recoilless rifles, brought up by 
the enemy during the previous evening, systematical- 
ly began to reduce South Vietnamese defensive po- 

The battalion executive officer in charge of the Bravo 
group was finally able to establish communications 
with the VNMC 105mm howitzer battalion. He ur- 
gently radioed, "We are going to die if we don't get 
some support." One platoon of two guns responded 
to this desperate request even though the gunners had 
to pull their lanyards while lying prone under the in- 
tense enemy counter battery fire. Their valiant effort 
was credited with killing many enemy soldiers and 
knocking out two of the recoilless rifles on the north- 
ern slope. 

At 1730, Captain Smith saw an enemy company 
moving up the southern slope, hauling a "large 
wheeled gun." At precisely that moment the weather 
cleared and a flight of U.S. Air Force McDonnell 

*A version of this was used to establish the chronology for the 
events described. 



Notth Vietnamese Army Photo 
Enemy riflemen move through the protective wire at Sarge after the fall of the position. 
They are dressed in characteristic green uniforms and armed with AK-47 assault rifles. 

Douglas F-4 Phantoms provided the sole air strike in 
support of Nui Ba Ho, knocking out the gun and dis- 
persing the force to the south. At darkness on 31 
March, the NVA resumed the attack on the northern 
slope, tenaciously assaulting the pinnacle. Less than 
four squads now defended the position. At about 2130, 
a U.S. Air Force Lockheed AC -130 Spectre gunship 
came on station to support the defenders but could 
not acquire targets anywhere in the area. The aircraft 
was unable to fire its Gatling guns but did drop flares. 
One of the flares, breaking through the haze and cast- 
ing an eerie glow, revealed the grim fact that the NVA 

had completely inundated the position. At 2205, one 
of the surviving command post troops, calling from 
the perimeter, reported that he had been captured but 
had escaped. He said the enemy force had control of 
the hill mass and suggested it was time to evacuate 
the position. 

Smith, grabbing a PRC25 radio and a Ml6 rifle, was 
the last to clear the command bunker. As he emerged 
he did not see anyone he knew, but he did see five 
NVA about three meters in front of the bunker. He 
recounted, "The NVA were as confused as I by then. 
I ran right by them without being detected." At the 



back side of the hill Smith heard some familiar voices 
calling names he recognized. He approached the 
group of survivors huddled against the southeast corn- 
er of the wire: 

I realized they were afraid to go through the wire because 
of the booby traps. By this time it was obvious that the po- 
sition was lost. So my counterpart and I began directing the 
26 survivors single file through a gap in the first band of 
wire. As we were doing this, an NVA began firing over out 
heads no more than five feet to my right rear. I turned and 
fited, knocking him down." 13 

Realizing that the shot would bring more NVA to 
their position, Captain Smith moved quickly to the 
head of the column, which was held up at the outer 
perimeter of concertina wire. Unhesitatingly, he threw 
himself backwards on top of the booby-trap-infested 
wire. Recalling this later, he said that he had foolish- 
ly thought that the radio on his back would absorb 
the blast had he tripped a mine. Quickly the Marines 
scrambled over Smith and the wire. With severe cuts 
on his arms and legs, Captain Smith crawled off the 
wire leaving most of his clothes entangled behind him. 

Having cleared the outer perimeter of the wire, 
practically naked and bleeding profusely, Smith as- 
sisted the executive officer in rallying the Marines and 
moved toward Mai Loc. Evading the NVA along the 
eastern slope, he continued to call for artillery fire on 
top of the hill while the harried survivors, chilled by 
the cold wind and rain, moved into the darkness. Nui 
Ba Ho, the first position lost to the enemy, fell at 2140 
on 31 March 1972. The Communist offensive was less 
than two days old. 14 

Fire Support Base Sarge Holds On 

On 31 March 1972, Fire Support Base Sarge con- 
tinued to be hit with massive fire and infantry assaults 
by the 66th NVA Regiment. Major Boomer was in ra- 
dio contact with Captain Smith on Nui Ba Ho. 
Although Smith's voice was steady throughout the day, 
that night, as the two were talking, Boomer knew the 
situation was bad when Smith's voice broke a little as 
he said, "If we make it, it'll just be luck." Major Boom- 
er knew that Nui Ba Ho had to be manned if Sarge 
was to be held, since Nui Ba Ho dominated the ap- 
proaches to its southern neighbor. He was dismayed 
when, at 2150, he heard Smith calling for artillery fire 
on top of the position which the Bravo group was sup- 
posed to be occupying. He was unable to communi- 
cate with Smith, apparently because of Smith's evasion 
tactics. The two Marine officers were close friends and 
Boomer believed that a last ditch effort to stop the 

NVA at Nui Ba Ho had failed and that Smith had 
been killed. 

Enemy ground attacks on Sarge persisted through 
the night of 31 March. By 0200 on 1 April 1972, the 
NVA had overrun all of the squad outposts to the 
north, east, and south and penetrated the defensive 
perimeter. The bad weather continued unabated, but 
a B-52 Arc Light struck likely enemy staging areas west 
of Highway 9. Despite the efforts of the Vietnamese 
Marines, the NVA launched wave after wave of infan- 
try attacks against the hill. 

"The enemy is thrown into confusion and his 
resistance is weakening," reported an NVA cameraman 
with the attacking Long Chau Unit. 15 At 0345, dur- 
ing a deluge of rain and intense enemy fire, what re- 
mained of the Alpha command group evacuated 
Sarge. Moving off the hill between two enemy units, 
Major Boomer radioed Major Joy at Mai Loc, ". . . we're 
moving." Shortly thereafter Boomer lost all radio con- 
tact with brigade. It was as if the entire 4th VNMC 
Battalion had been swallowed up into the night. 

At dawn, a "Victory" banner was brandished over 
Sarge's command post by the NVA, with "enemy 
[South Vietnamese] Marines emerging from their 
bunkers," while "PLAF men pursue those fleeing 
southward." Escape from the encircling enemy brought 
the Marines no respite from chilling rains or from the 
fatigue brought on by two days of fighting without 
food and sleep. All through the day of 1 April the 
survivors of Sarge followed a tortuous route through 
the jungle, evading a seemingly ubiquitous enemy. 

During this period, higher headquarters ordered 
B-52 strikes against the enemy's resupply and staging 
areas at Khe Sanh and into Laos. MACV and the RVN 
Joint General Staff, nevertheless, believed that the 
NVA would not cross the DM2 with more than a feint 
and any main NVA attack would be at MR 2. Thus 
they concentrated the air effort in the Kontum area 
in order to prevent the NVA from seizing Pleiku. 

The NVA's sudden shift from guerrilla harassing tac- 
tics to mobile conventional warfare caught both Gener- 
al Giai and the commander of ] Corps, General Lam, 
by complete surprise. Never before had the North Viet- 
namese struck either military or civilian areas with such 
a concentration of artillery fire. During the first 48 
hours a hail of artillery and rocket rounds struck each 
of the combat bases and the surrounding civilian areas 
along the entire buffer zone. In the face of this un- 
precedented attack, civilians began gathering their be- 
longings and fleeing south to Dong Ha. 18 



Photo courtesy of Maj Charles W. King, USMC (Ret) 
The Alpha 2 outpost and the tower from which a naval gunfire spot team controlled 
American destroyers to blunt the initial Communist attack from the Demilitarized Zone. 

By midday of 1 April 1972, members of the 57th 
ARVN Regiment on Alpha 2, at Gio Linh, abandoned 
their exposed positions on the perimeter and sought 
protection in bunkers in the southern portion of the 
fire base. ARVN artillerymen refused to leave their 
bunkers to fire counterbattery missions. Naval gun- 
fire from the USS Buchanan (DDG 14) and the USS 
Joseph P. Strauss (DDG 16), directed by a five-man 
ANGLICO spot team at Alpha 2, suppressed enemy 
supporting arms fire and impeded the advance of the 
NVA infantry, allowing the ARVN forces to withdraw. 

Corporal James F. "Diamond Jim" Worth was a field 
radio operator with First Lieutenant David C. Brugge- 
man's ANGLICO spot team with the ARVN 57th In- 
fantry Regiment at Alpha 2. The 20-year-old Worth, 
from Chicago, Illinois, had been in Vietnam with Sub 
Unit One since the previous year. According to Lieu- 
tenant Colonel D'Wayne Gray, Worth had requested 
mast to get back into the "field," rather than stay in 
the relative safety of Saigon. Gray described Worth as 
"an Irish charmer and not at all above conning his 
CO." 17 The outpost had been hit with heavy artillery, 
rocket, and mortar fire when the North Vietnamese 
attacked. Ibr two days Corporal Worth and the other 
members of his team called for suppression, interdic- 
tion, and counterbattery fires during the critical ini- 

tial stages of the attack while the 3d ARVN Division 
had lost most of its artillery and the weather prevent- 
ed close air support. Communist ground forces had 
probed Alpha 2 and cut the position off from friend- 
ly support. The situation now reached a climax as the 
enemy launched its final assault supported by artillery. 
As the fight went against the South Vietnamese, Lieu- 
tenant Bruggeman requested helicopter evacuation for 
his team through Lieutenant Eisenstein at the divi- 
sion tactical operations center. 18 

From his position on the Alpha 2 observation tow- 
er, Corporal Worth watched the soldiers of the ARVN 
57th Regiment abandon their fighting holes on the 
outpost's forward slope. As he looked to the rear he 
saw the ARVN 105mm howitzers also abandoned as 
NVA infantry closed from three sides of the fire base. 
An evacuation helicopter was on its way if the Marines 
could make the relative safety of Alpha 2's 
southeastern corner landing zone. 

After some delay, Worth and the other Marines 
spotted an Army UH-1. The U.S. Army UH-1 helicop- 
ter, piloted by Warrant Officers Ben Nielsen and 
Robert Sheridan, flew in low and landed. Sheridan, 
a door gunner, and Lieutenant Eisenstein, quickly 
jumped out to assist the Marines. With their weapons 
and gear, Worth and the other Marines prepared to 



board the helicopter. That instant, mortar rounds 
struck the landing zone, mortally injuring Lieutenant 
Bruggeman and dispersing his men. As the Marines 
scrambled on board the helicopter, Worrh was not with 
them. As Warrant Officer Sheridan glanced about 
him, he saw a few shell-shocked Vietnamese soldiers, 
but all the rest of the ARVN force had left. 

The aircraft took off, flew to the Ai Tu Combat Base 
to pick up ANGLICO's HM1 Thomas E, "Doc" Wil- 
liamson, USN, who attempted life-saving measures on 
Bruggeman. With the corpsman on board, Sheridan 
then headed for Da Nang. Lieutenant Bruggeman 
died of wounds halfway back to the medical facility. 
Corporal James Worth was never seen again after the 
fall of Alpha 2. He joined the ranks of the missing 
Americans, who were either dead or captured at the 
war's end.* lB 

As Alpha 4, Alpha 2, Fuller, Khe Gio, and Hol- 
comb were lost, General Giai moved his division head- 
quarters to the rear. With the departure of the bulk 
of Team 155 south of the Thach Han River, VNMC 
Brigade 258 headquarters was ordered to leave its 3d 
VNMC Battalion at Dong Ha and to move to Ai Tu 
to assume overall control of the division forward com- 
mand post during the displacement. As Lieutenant 
Colonel Ngo Van Dinh and his staff arrived at Ai Tu 
around 1500, together with the 6th VNMC Battalion 
which had come up from FSB Barbara, a barrage of 
more than 800 rounds of artillery greeted them. 20 

The Collapse of the Ring of Steel 

At 1620, 1 April, Lieutenant Colonel Normand 
Heon, assistant senior advisor, Team 155, had recom- 
mended the withdrawal of all the remaining U.S. per- 
sonnel at Ai Tu. The U.S. Marine advisors, not subject 
to this order, stayed with their Vietnamese counter- 
parts. Two U.S. Army advisors also voluntarily re- 
mained with the 56th ARVN Regiment at Camp Car- 
roll. The forward command post at Ai Tu, manned by 
30 Americans, both officers and enlisted men, repre- 
sented the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force. 
Now under Lieutenant Colonel Turley, each man 
volunteered to remain to operate the division-level 
combined arms coordination center, the only com- 
mand and control center north of Da Nang with work- 
ing communications. 21 

By 1700, Charlie 1 and Charlie 2 were abandoned. 
As the fire support bases below the DMZ fell and were 

*He was listed missing in action and declared dead by the Secre- 
tary of the Navy under Title 37, U.S. Code, Section 555 on 17 De- 
cember 1976. 

evacuated, soldiers and civilians thronged southward 
and were infiltrated by NVA forward observers. Refu- 
gees moving east along Highway 9 reported that the 
27th NVA Regiment was at Cam Lo. Refugees and 
ARVN stragglers came across the Dong Ha bridge in 
an unbroken stream. ARVN units were fragmented 
and ineffective. No kind of identification of rank or 
unit was in evidence. Approximately one out of three 
"fatigue-clad persons" carried a weapon. Press reports 
called it a "3d Infantry Division debacle ... as govern- 
ment troops panicked." . 

Colonel Metcalf observed later that it took a great 
deal of expertise to withdraw correctly in combat, "in 
the sense of being able to deploy yourself by echelon 
down a highway or out of an area." With the hasty 
retreat of the ARVN forces, Metcalf learned that you 
"can't sit down as the senior advisor with the division 
commander or the senior advisor with the regimental 
commander and say well, this is the way the book 
says." 22 

Now Communist T-54 main battle tanks, PT-76 am- 
phibious tanks, and BTR-50 armored personnel car- 
riers drove across the DMZ creating panic among the 
confused refugees.** 23 As "tank panic" took hold, 
soldiers of the 3d ARVN Division threw their weapons 
and equipment away and joined the civilian exodus. 
General Giai, while hastily formulating a defensive 
plan, personally attempted to stem the wholesale 
desertions of the DMZ defensive positions by his sold- 
iers, but all order had been lost. Whatever Giai's faults, 
he was not a coward, recalled an Army advisor at the 
time. 24 

As soldiers of the 57th ARVN Regiment streamed 
across the Dong Ha Bridge, Giai grabbed them and 
demanded to know why they were running and was 
told "tanks, tanks!" Giai replied, "Show me a tank and 
I will go with you, and we will destroy it together." 
Personal example was to no avail. By darkness on 1 
April every ARVN combat base north of the Cam Lo 

**The North Vietnamese had always had armored units and some 
vehicles had been used in the south in the past. More recent ex- 
perience was available with the NVA use of armor during the 1971 
Lam Son 719 incursion into Laos and in their attack on the Plain 
of Jars. The two armored units committed— the 202d and 203d NVA 
Armored Regiments, as well as the infantry divisions, used a varie- 
ty of armored vehicles, differing in nomenclature and technical de- 
tails. After action analysis revealed the vehicles to be a mix of Soviet 
and Chinese manufactured equipment, for example: the Soviet T-54 
or the Chinese Type 59, the Soviet PT-76 amphibious tank or the 
similar Chinese Type 63, the Soviet BTR-50 armored personnel carrier 
or the Chinese Model 1967, and the Soviet M46 130mm gun or 
the Chinese Type 59. Ibr simplicity in the narrative, the terms used 
are those found in the contemporary records. (Besch comments) 



North Vietnamese Army Photo 
An infantry attack in a "combat" photograph by the North Vietnamese. The soldier to 
the left of the tower waves a red and blue National Liberation Front banner, despite 
this being a NVA unit. The soldier on the right carries a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. 

River had fallen. 25 The NVA had taken a mere 48 hours 
to crush the northern "ring of steel." At best, the 
retreating ARVN had served to slow the NVA because 
the enemy had deployed into battlefield formations. 

At 1900 on 1 April 1972, Colonel Metcalf left Ai 
Tu Combat Base with General Giai for the new com- 
mand post located in the Citadel in Quang Tri City. 
Since the main 3d ARVN Division command post dis- 
placed to Quang Tri City without maintaining the nor- 
mal duplicate command and communications radio 
channels, Turley and his small staff were the only fa- 
cility which had the capability of controlling all U.S. 
supporting arms. During the initial critical days of the 
invasion, this small band of Americans operated 

around the clock recommending B-52 Arc Light 
strikes, directing tactical air support, and adjusting 
Vietnamese artillery and naval gunfire support. All 
the fire support coordination in Quang Tri Province 
for the next few days was carried out by 30 men in 
one bunker north of the Thach Han. 

Although good communications were maintained 
with FRAC's operations center in Da Nang as well as 
with the 3d ARVN Division main command post at 
Quang Tri City, at no time did Turley receive any major 
tactical guidance from these higher headquarters. 
General Frederick}. Kroesen's newly organized FRAC 
headquarters had replaced the Army's XXIV Corps, 
which only 10 days earlier had departed forjapan. The 



Photo courtesy of LCdr Francis C. Brown, 
American helicopter support in the 3 d ARVN Division area of operations was under the 
direct control of the senior American advisor of MACV Advisory Team 155. This Bell 
UH-1 Iroquois and its crew are on standby at the "Tiger Pad" at the Quang Tri Citadel. 
Support by these aircraft was in great demand during the hectic days at the offensives start. 


advisory command, recalled General Kroesen, was 
"heavily weighted to provide administrative assistance 
and logistical advice," with only a token intelligence 
and operations section. It was neither manned nor 
equipped to monitor the combat activity or to pro- 
vide tactical guidance. 26 

Turley continued to operate in his own fashion, rely- 
ing on his previous experience and Marine Corps train- 
ing * Brigadier General Thomas W. Bowen, USA, the 

*Lieutenant Colonel Turley was awarded a Legion of Merit in part 
for his advisory actions that were credited with the delay of the multi- 
division attack in MR 1 that allowed I Corps units to organize a 
defense in Quang Tri Province, 

deputy FRAC commander, authorized him the use of 
B-52 Arc Light bombing to halt the attack. An 
unidentified Air Force "general" called directly from 
Saigon and told Turley to give him the center of im- 
pact for desired targets and that he would provide 
them as requested. Turley asked for strikes on areas 
that earlier sensor "readings" indicated were assem- 
bly areas or likely enemy avenues of approach. The 
U.S. Air Force flew 64 B-52 strikes called by Turley on 
these targets. Despite these strikes the enemy closed 
on the ARVN defenses south of the Cam Lo, Mieu 
Giang, and Cua Viet Rivers. The situation was 
critical. 27 


The Defense of Dong Ha 

The Easter Sunday Crisis— The Dong Ha Bridge— Action at the Bridge — Reaction at Saigon 
Camp Carroll Surrenders— Mai hoc Exposed— The Dong Ha Bridge Destroyed 
Callsign Bat-21 — Mai hoc Evacuated 

The Easter Sunday Crisis 

Easter Sunday, 2 April 1972, proved to be a fateful 
day for the defenders of northern Quang Tri Province. 
Sunday morning, things were grim at Mai Loc, where 
VNMC Brigade 147 remained under constant enemy 
artillery fire. Bad weather limited the effectiveness of 
the airborne forward air controllers and air support. 
The 155mm guns at the combat base had depleted 
their ammunition in largely futile counterfire. After 
almost three days of constant bombardment and no 
radio contact with the battalion at Sarge or the two 
companies on Holcomb, no supporting B-52 strikes, 
and rapidly depleting supplies, Major Jim R. Joy, the 
brigade advisor, requested help from the 3d ARVN 
Division to resupply small arms ammunition, artillery 
rounds, and food. 1 

The survivors from Sarge and Nui Ba Ho started to 
reappear after a night on the run. Major Tran Xuan 
Quang, the 4th VNMC Battalion commander, and 
Major Walter E. Boomer, had decided at daybreak to 
stop evading and strike out for friendly lines at Mai 
Loc combat base. Just as the group of survivors left 
the jungle to enter a cleared, hilly area, an NVA unit 
attacked. The exhausted Marines, with little ammu- 
nition and some without weapons, broke and ran, 
leaving their wounded comrades. Major Boomer co- 
vered the retreat with his own fire. His delaying ac- 
tion allowed the dispirited troops to withdraw to the 
east. Boomer, who now was no longer with the bat- 
talion commander, guided eight other Vietnamese 
Marines to the comparative safety of Mai Loc. 

Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Turley's position at Ai 
Tu as an involved visitor by this time had become one 
of grave responsibility and direct authority. The only 
optimistic note was a report from a naval gunfire ship 
which informed him that the 31st MAU was present 
on Seventh Fleet amphibious assault ships within sight 
of the beach. At 0915, Colonel Metcalf telephoned 
Lieutenant Colonel Turley from the newly established 
3d ARVN Division command post in the Citadel of 
Quang Tri City, and told him, "You are directed to 
take over as senior American advisor to the 3d ARVN 
Division, Forward, by order of the Commanding 
General, FRAC." 2 

The battered and disorganized 57th ARVN Regi- 
ment, which almost 24 hours earlier had evacuated 
its command post at Charlie 1, radioed Ai Tu around 
1015 and reported NVA armor on QL-1 in the vicinity 
of Alpha 2. The radio message reported the vehicles 
as 20 Soviet-built PT-76 and T-54 tanks. When asked 
if they could stop the tanks north of the Mieu Giang 
River, the unidentified voice indicated that they could 
not. Turley passed this information to FRAC head- 
quarters, as it appeared that the road to Dong Ha was 
wide open to a rapidly moving enemy armored force. 

The Dong Ha Bridge 
Outside of Dong Ha was the 3d VNMC Battalion, 
with Captain John W. Ripley as its advisor. This 
meager blocking force had to gain enough time for the 
3d ARVN Division to organize a new defensive line 
along the Mieu Giang River. With the report of ad- 
vancing NVA armor, Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Van 
Dinh, Marine Brigade 258 commander at Ai Tu, im- 
mediately ordered Major Le Ba Binh, 3d battalion 
commander, to defend Dong Ha and its bridges "at 
all costs." Dinh also sent four of the 6th VNMC Bat- 
talion's jeep-mounted 106mm recoilless rifles north to 
provide antitank support. At Quang Tri, Colonel Ngo 
Van Chung, deputy commander of the 3d ARVN Di- 
vision, in the absence of General Giai, committed the 
freshly painted and newly received M48 battle tanks 
of the 20th ARVN Tank Battalion, also to meet this 
threat. 3 

Major Binh had little intelligence on the situation 
he now faced. A North Vietnamese red and gold flag 
was seen flying from the girders of an old railway 
bridge over the Mieu Giang River. When Major Binh 
heard a spurious radio report of the fall of Dong Ha, 
he turned to Captain Ripley and said, "If you please, 
I am going to send a message on my command net." 
He sent over both Vietnamese and American chan- 
nels the message that there were "Vietnamese Marines 
in Dong Ha" and "as long as one Marine draws a 
breath of life, Dong Ha will belong to us." 4 

Major Easley, Senior Advisor to Brigade 258, had 
called Captain Ripley and told him to expect the worst 
and that reinforcements were not anticipated. Easley 
said that radio contact with the 57th ARVN had been 




David Burnett Contact Press Images 
At the 3d VNMC Battalion command post at Dong Ha, the American is Capt John W. 
Ripley. Bending over the map is the battalion commander, Ma/ Le Ba Binh. Note the 
number of radios used to control the unit and the AWN M113 armored personnel carrier. 

lost, NVA tanks wete on the move southward, refu- 

gees were streaming across the main Dong Ha bridge, 
and the brigade headquarters had to remain at Ai Tu 
Combat Base to maintain perimeter security for the 
forward command post of the division. 

At approximately 1100, the Marines were joined by 
elements of the 20th ARVN Tank Battalion, under the 
command of Lieutenant Colonel Ton Ta Ly, with U.S. 
Army Major James E. Smock as his counterpart. 
General Giai designated Lieutenant Colonel Ly, who 
was senior in rank to Major Binh, as overall area com- 
mander. As control was passed, the two units' com- 
mand posts were consolidated in an Ml 13 armored 
personnel carrier (APC). By 1115, forward elements of 
one company of the 3d Battalion were just short of 
the principal Dong Ha bridge, waiting for the rest of 
their unit to join them. 

As two rifle companies of the 3d Battalion moved 
into Dong Ha from the west to establish a defensive 
position on either side of the main bridge, a third 
company was extended westward along Highway 9 to 
cover the railroad bridge. The position was in full view 
of the NVA on the north bank, particularly the NVA 

soldiers at the railroad bridge. As the battalion com- 
mand group, now mounted on tanks, moved past the 
outskirts of Dong Ha, a devastating artillery barrage 
hit it. All troop movements south of the river stopped. 
Ripley described it as an "absolute fire storm." Shells 
blew buildings and defensive structures apart. The 
enemy artillery took its toll of civilian refugees fleeing 
the battle. The march to the bridge had to loop to the 
south to enter Dong Ha from a less exposed direction. 

At one point, a large group clad in ARVN uniforms 
passed the Marines, "not a civilian refugee among 
them, just a huge glob of men— moving south, neat- 
ly dressed and covered, but with no rank or insignia. 
About every third man was armed." It was more than 
Major Binh could take. He leaped off his tank, 
grabbed one of the fleeing soldiers and screamed at 
him, "Where are you going?" The startled soldier re- 
plied that it was "no use, no use." Major Binh drew 
his pistol and killed the soldier on the spot, but the 
retreating horde continued southward unimpeded. No 
one even took notice of the incident as they skirted 
the fallen soldier and continued southward. 
The 36th NVA Regiment attempted to cross the par- 



David Burnett Contact Press Images 
Other Americans at Dong Ha were with the 20tb 
AWN Tank Battalion. Maj James E. Smock, USA, 
shown here, was crucial to the destruction of the Dong 
Ha bridges. He is wearing the standard American hel- 
met and protective body armor or "flak jacket." 

tially destroyed railroad bridge. When the NVA in- 
fantrymen gained a foothold on the south side of the 
railroad bridge, Captain Ripley called for a continu- 
ous naval gunfire mission. His request went directly 
to the fire support coordinators at the Ai Tu tactical 
operations center. First Lieutenant Eisenstein, in 
charge of the ANGIiCO liaison team, contacted Com- 
mander Williams J. Thearle, USN, commanding 
officer of the USS Buchanan (DDG 14). The Bucha- 
nan, a guided missile destroyer, was the flagship of 
Naval Gunfire Support Task Unit 70.8.9. The task unit 
included the destroyers Buchanan, Strauss (DDG 16), 
Waddell (DDG 24), Hamner (DD 718), and Ander- 
son (DD 786). Ripley called for interdiction fire in the 
vicinity of the railroad bridge, 300 meters to the right 
and left of the bridge. There was almost instant 
response. The ANGL1CO team, consisting of Lieu- 
tenant Eisenstein and Sergeant Joe D. Swift, also 

worked up a number of defensive fire plans in the vi- 
cinity of QL-1 and called for fire on unobserved tar- 
gets. Four columns of black smoke indicated that the 
ships' automatic 5-inch guns had found their targets. 

For more than an hour continuous naval gunfire in- 
terdicted the approaches to both bridges. Ripley re- 
quested that fire support boxes of approximately 1,000 
x 2,000 meters be shifted between the bridges* It was 
a very effective and responsive system: no fire com- 
mands, no map checks, no adjustments, just a request 
for more fire at the railroad bridge. Upon hearing 
tanks on the north bank about 200 meters up QL-1, 
Ripley called for another fire mission which bracket- 
ed the area. 

The 3d VNMC Battalion continued to deploy under 
the protective fire of U.S. Navy ships. Shortly, two com- 
panies of Marines and the 3d Troop of the 20th ARVN 
Tank Battalion moved forward and occupied Dong Ha 
and established defensive positions on the south side 
of the main bridge. The 1st Troop and Headquarters' 
Section occupied the high ground southwest of the 
village, a position which provided good observation 
of QL-1 north of the Mieu Giang River. Upon seeing 
four enemy PT-76 tanks traveling along the banks of 
the river just east of Dong Ha, Ripley shifted the naval 
gunfire. With responsive and accurate fire, the ships 
destroyed all four tanks. Ripley was watching from a 
vantage point. He recalled the incident: 

We could see them burning clearly. My counterpart, the 
Marine Battalion commander and the tank battalion com- 
mander were both observing this superb display of naval gun- 
fire When the tanks were hit and burning, both were 
surprised and elated in seeing rhe potential of NGF. I was 
to receive many requests for NGF by the Vietnamese after 
this attack. 5 

Other enemy tanks, however, appeared on the 
horizon, raising "rooster tails" of mud and dust as they 
barreled down QL-1 toward the main Dong Ha bridge. 
When the tanks were within 1,000 meters of the 
bridge, the weather cleared, and Vietnamese-piloted 
A-l McDonnell Douglas Skyraider aircraft, orbiting 
overhead, dived through the cloud opening and 
bombed and strafed the fast-moving tanks. The VNAF 
pilots destroyed 11 tanks, but one pilot was forced to 
bail out of his burning aircraft. The violent and savage 
noise of battle strangely quieted as opposing elements 
stopped firing and looked skyward as the pilot's 
parachute blossomed and he drifted slowly toward im- 
minent capture on the north side of the river. 

*Boxes are rectangular areas in which naval gunfire projectiles 



Government of Vietnam Photo 
South Vietnamese troop movement was hampered by large numbers of refugees on the 
roads, including military stragglers. Communist forces used them to screen their own 
deployment, causing destruction and the needless deaths of those fleeing the battle area. 

The 20th ARVN Tank Battalion was equipped with American M48 main battle tanks. 
Armed with a 90mm gun and range finder, it held its own against enemy armor. 

Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W, Besch, USMC (Ret) 



North Vietnamese Army Photo 

After the penetration of forward South Vietnamese defenses by infantry and artillery, 
North Vietnamese tanks were used to make rapid advances to secure critical locations. 
Light amphibious tanks armed with 76mm guns are shown crossing a river early in the 
offensive. The vehicles carry infantrymen on their upper decks and are camouflaged. 

The cleared skies permitted the Vietnamese A-ls to 
stop the tanks momentarily, but others continued the 
thrust southward. Although the NVA tanks across the 
river were moving in defilade, Ripley could hear them 
and see the dust raised by their tracks. An observa- 
tion aircraft orbiting overhead kept the command 
center at Ai Tu informed of the tanks' movement. At 
Ai Tu, Turley and Dinh anxiously monitored the posi- 
tioning of the thin line of defense along the river line. 

At 1200, an NVA tank column came into view mov- 
ing south along QL-1 from Charlie 1 toward Dong Ha. 
Although the range was in excess of 2,500 meters, the 
tanks of 1st Troop on the high ground immediately 
took the column under fire and knocked out six ene- 
my vehicles. The NVA unit commander was stunned. 
His monitored radio message to his higher headquart- 
ers reported the loss of six tanks to direct fire weapons, 
but he indicated that he had no idea where the fire 
had come from. The 20th's executive officer, Major 

Kieu, in command of his own tank, claimed two of 
the T-54s, spotting his cannon shots through the use 
of machine gun rounds viewed through his rangefinder 
at a range of 3,000 meters. The South Vietnamese 
tankers had learned their lessons well. 6 

The 308th NVA Division's thrust from the DM2 to 
the south had gained momentum as each ARVN out- 
post and fire support base fell. After more than three 
days of continuous artillery attacks and tank-infantry 
assaults, it now appeared that the North Vietnamese 
were making their main attack along the axis of QL-1. 
At this time Camp Carroll and Mai Loc to the west 
were still in friendly hands, but all resistance to the 
north of the Cam Lo and Cua Viet Rivers had crum- 
bled. By noon on Easter Sunday nothing was between 
the enemy and the coveted Quang Tri City— except 
a river, a bridge, and a battalion of Vietnamese Ma- 
rines and ARVN tanks. 

At about 1215, as the first NVA tank nosed out 


toward the north side of the bridge, Vietnamese Ma- 
rine Sergeant Huynh Van Luom, a veteran of many 
years fighting, took two M72 Light Antitank Weapons 
(LAW), simple shoulder-fired, single-shot rockets, and 
walked up to the south side of the bridge. Although 
he was an assault team section leader, he had elected 
to move forward alone. As he reached the planking 
of the bridge he took two ammunition boxes filled 
with dirt and one strand of concertina wire and placed 
them in front of him. It was a ludicrous situation, the 
90-pound Marine crouched in the firing position to 
do battle with the 40-ton behemoth bearing down on 
his meager fortification. Luom coolly extended both 
his LAWs as the tank started across the bridge. 

The tank stopped. Perhaps the tank commander 
could not believe his eyes, but he stopped dead in his 
tracks as he watched the lone Marine take aim. Ser- 
geant Luom fired. The round went high and to the 
right. The tank started to ease forward. Luom picked 
up the second rocket, aimed and fired. The rocket 
ricocheted off the front armor, detonated on the tur- 
ret ring, and caused the turret to jam. 

The whole incident took only a few seconds. The 
slightly damaged tank backed off onto the north side 
of the bridge. Sergeant Luom grinned. The whole 
front breathed easier. In his assessment of the situa- 
tion, Captain Ripley gave Sergeant Luom credit for 
singlehandedly stopping the momentum of the en- 
tire enemy attack. Ripley called Sergeant Luom's ini- 
tial decisive action at the bridge the "bravest single 
act of heroism I've ever heard of, witnessed, or ex- 
perienced." The enemy tank commander, in backing 
off the bridge, had made the worst possible decision 
he could have made, for all at once the Marines along 
the river realized that an enemy tank could be 
stopped. While Sergeant Luom's heroic stand had tem- 
porarily halted the NVA, Captain Ripley knew that 
they would try again, in overwhelming force, and that 
the outnumbered Marines might not be able to hold. 
Both he and Army Major Smock, with 20th Tanks, 
radioed the Ai Tu TOC and requested permission to 
destroy the bridge. 7 

Lieutenant Colonel Turley conferred with VNMC 
Brigade 258*s Lieutenant Colonel Dinh. The two sold- 
iers knew bridges are not arbitrarily blown in combat. 
A local commander must consider all aspects before 
destroying a bridge that, only hours later, could be 
beneficial to him. General Giai wanted armor to cross 
over and secure a bridgehead on the north bank for 
a counterattack, and Giai's deputy, Colonel Chung, 
would not give permission to destroy it. Ripley, the 

man on the spot, persisted, "you can't deny me per- 
mission, we only have one company at the bridge 
. . . you've got to permit me to blow it!" Turley shot 
back a "Wait, out," which is radio procedure indicating 
a reply is forthcoming after a moment of consultation. 

The moments dragged by as Turley deliberated what 
to do. He was the senior American north of the Thach 
Han River, but his role was that of an advisor. Colonel 
Dinh said that he could not make the decision, this 
would have to come from I Corps. The operations 
center became very quiet as the Americans there and 
two Americans at the bridge waited for a decision. If 
the bridge was not blown, it would be only a matter 
of hours before the North Vietnamese armor would 
be rolling into Quang Tri or even Hue. Turley fidget- 
ed as he waited for his counterpart to take action. He 
felt, due to Major Smock and Captain Ripley's insis- 
tent, on-site, appraisal of the situation, that it had be- 
come an operational necessity to blow the bridge, 
Turley called the FRAC G-3 and presented the plight, 
but the FRAC tactical operations center could not per- 
mit the bridge to be destroyed. Based on a MACV 
standing operational procedure, FRAC denied permis- 
sion to destroy the span; permission would have to 
come from Saigon. At 1245, Turley took matters into 
his own hands. He radioed Smock and Ripley to blow 
the Dong Ha Bridge immediately. Turley indicated 
that, if necessary, additional demolitions would be sent 
up and that FRAC had been informed of the deci- 
sion. Ripley replied, almost gleefully, that he had al- 
ways wanted to blow a bridge. 8 

As Turley consolidated available support, fragmen- 
tary information sent out by the forward command 
post over the radio was confused by Destroyer Squa- 
dron 3, which sent a message to the Amphibious 
Ready Group and 31st MAU requesting immediate 
withdrawal of U.S. personnel from Ai Tu and the pos- 
sible landing of the landing force* The squadron com- 
mander, Captain Roger D. Johnson, went on to state 
that "NVA and ARVN tanks engaged at Quang Tri 
airfield," while the NVA armor was still north of the 
Cam Lo-Mieu Giang-Cua Viet River. Information co- 
pies of the message were sent to FRAC, NavForV, 
MACV, and had entered the national military com- 
mand system. Lieutenant Colonel D'Wayne Gray, 
commanding Sub Unit One, who was at FRAC head- 
quarters in Da Nang to coordinate ANGLICO sup- 

*ComDesRon 3 msg to CTG76.4 dtd 020510Apr72. This "land- 
ing force" message was used to tecall Turley to Saigon to explain 
to Rear Admiral Robert S. Salzer, commander of U.S. Naval Forces 
Vietnam, his reasons for sending rhe message. 



port, was in radio communications with Brigadier 
General William H. Lanagan, Jr., at MACV in Saigon 
and the ANGLICO team at Ai Tu. Lanagan thought 
Turley "had gone crazy," when the garbled message 
traffic arrived at MACV with "Turley Sends," and want- 
ed to know what a Marine was doing with an army 
unit. 9 Lieutenant Colonel Turley had more immedi- 
ate concerns at the time. 

Action at the Bridge 

Captain Ripley, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, had 
commanded a rifle company in Vietnam in 1966, earn- 
ing a Silver Star Medal. He had gained extensive ex- 
perience with demolitions while attending the U.S. 
Army Ranger School and while serving with British 
Royal Marines. As Ripley walked forward toward the 
bridge, Major Smock drove up on an ARVN tank, 
yelled to him, "Hey Marine, climb aboard and let's 
go blow a bridge." 

The two Americans with two ARVN tanks moved 
forward to within 100 meters of the bridge, at the junc- 
tion of highways 9 and 1, known as "The Triangle." 
The tanks, being in total defilade, stopped at this 
point. Ripley and Smock dismounted and, shielded 
from enemy view by an old, heavily constructed Dye 
Marker* bunker, moved behind the bunker. From the 
bunker to the bridge was open space and enemy ar- 
tillery and small-arms fire was sweeping the area. The 
sun was bright, the weather had cleared, but there were 
no aircraft overhead and no naval gunfire coming in. 

The two men ran forward across the open space and 
found a small group of ARVN engineers desperately 
trying to emplace demolition charges. The engineers 
had about 500 pounds of TNT block and C4 plastic 
explosive positioned at the juncture of the bridge and 
the approach ramp. The main Dong Ha bridge was 
a two-lane, 60-ton, American-built structure of con- 
crete and steel girders, with a wooden roadway approx- 
imately 505 feet long. Unfortunately, ARVN engineers 
had placed the explosives in such a position that upon 
detonation, the bridge might have merely "flapped" 
in place and would not have torqued and dropped. 

Ripley realized that all of the explosives, C4 and 
TNT blocks in about 25-30 wooden artillery ammu- 
nition boxes, would have to be transported onto the 
bridge and placed in a staggered alignment under- 
neath the girders. A high chain-link fence topped by 
concertina "German-steel-tape" wire prevented easy 
access to the underpinnings of the bridge. After a 

*"Dye Marker" was the code name given to the McNamara Line 
which was constructed along the trace of the DMZ in 1967-1968. 

quick conference with Smock, it was agreed that once 
Ripley cleared the fence, Smock would push the TNT 
over the fence and Ripley, in turn, would place it un- 
derneath the spans. 

Swinging his body up and over the fence, Ripley 
barely cleared the concertina as he slashed his uniform 
on the barbed-wire. Clearing this obstacle, with a 
satchel charge and some blasting caps, the Marine 
started crawling hand-over-hand above the water along 
the first "I" beam girder. From underneath, the bridge 
"looked like a battleship" in size and appearance. Half- 
way out on the span he tried to swing himself up into 
the steel girders by hooking his heels on either side 
of the "I" beam. It was then that he realized that he 
still had on his personal combat equipment and that 
his CAR15 rifle was slung over his shoulders.** All at 
once the weight was oppressive. As he was hanging 
by his hands, laden with explosives, web gear, and 
weapons, and with the NVA soldiers on the north bank 
watching, Ripley made an effort to secure a foothold 
on the beam. His arms ached with pain, his finger 
grasp felt insecure, and he knew he could not hang 
there indefinitely. After several attempts to swing his 
body, he lodged his heels on the "I" beam. Working 
his way up into the steel of the bridge, he discovered 
that the support girders were separated by practically 
the width of the artillery ammunition crates in which 
the explosives had been packed. 

Crawling back and forth between the beams, Ripley 
placed the demolitions in a staggered alignment 
among the six beams. Major Smock, remaining at the 
fence, muscled the 50-pound boxes near the five chan- 
nels created by the six beams by climbing the fence 
each time and placing them within reach. As each 
channel was armed, it was necessary for Ripley to drop 
down from one beam and swing over the next, very 
similar to a high wire act in a circus. 

As the Marine laboriously dragged each crate of ex- 
plosive charges down the chute formed by the legs of 
each of the "I" beams, Major Smock became impa- 
tient with Ripley's meticulous manner. He called, 
"Hey, you dumb jar-head, that isn't necessary .... 
What are you doing that for? Work faster!" Ripley re- 
plied, "This is the way the Army taught me. You 
tankers don't know anything!" 10 Ripley assured Smock 
that the charges had to be placed diagonally in order 
to torque the span from its abutment. Smock insist- 

**The CAR15 was a shortened and modified version of the M16 
service rifle, not standard issue to the Marine Corps, but available 
through other sources. It was also known as the XM177 Colt 



Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy 
This diorama depicts the situation Capt John W. 
Ripley faced in placing demolition charges underneath 
the Dong Ha Bridge. The boxes containing explosives 
were slid down the bridge framework. To move from 
charge to charge required him to swing under the gird- 
ers in full view of North Vietnamese riflemen. 

ed that there was enough power to blow that bridge 
and "three more like it." Despite the "interservice" 
rivalry, the bridge had to blow on the first try. There 
would be no time for a second attempt. After lifting 
all the demolition boxes to Ripley, Smock, exhaust- 
ed, sat down and lit a cigarette while Ripley relaxed 
amidst the steel girders. 11 

Reaction at Saigon 

While these events were underway, Lieutenant 
Colonel Turley received a response from Saigon, but 
not the one he expected. During the first few days of 
the offensive, the situation in northern MR 1 was 
viewed by MACV with concern, "if not with alarm." 
With Colonel Metcalf at Quang Tri City, Turley was 
the senior advisor for the ARVN units in direct con- 
tact with the major elements of three NVA Divisions. 
He was constantly on the radio with higher headquart- 
ers at Da Nang and Saigon in an effort to convince 
them that the attack that "could not happen," was, 
in fact, underway. MACV and the Vietnamese Joint 
General Staff, lulled into a kind of complacency by 
reports of the success of the Vietnamization effort and 
by the intelligence community's forecasts, were very 

skeptical of these reports, despite the evidence that 
now faced them. Earlier in the day, the senior Marine 
advisor, Colonel Dorsey, had tried to get Turley out 
of Ai Tu. By this time, General Abrams was even more 
exasperated by the spurious request for Seventh Fleet 
Marines. Colonel Dorsey again ordered Turley to return 
to Saigon as soon as possible in a message passed by 
ANGLICO's Lieutenant Colonel Gray, at Da Nang, 
who had voice radio communication with the Ai Tu 
operations center. 12 This would be overtaken by other 
battlefield events. 

Camp Carroll Surrenders 

At 1520 Sunday afternoon, the forward division tac- 
tical operations center received a radio call from U.S. 
Army Lieutenant Colonel William C. Camper, senior 
advisor to the 56th ARVN Regiment at Camp Car- 
roll.' 3 Camper reported that white flags were going 
up all over the place, the Vietnamese were surrender- 
ing, and that he requested to be evacuated immedi- 
ately. At that moment an Army Boeing CH-47 
Chinook, callsign "Coachman 005," appeared over Mai 
Loc, dropped an external load of artillery ammunition 
at the position, made an abrupt turn and headed for 
Camp Carroll, with two escorting gunships. Appar- 
ently the pilot had monitored the conversation. 

The fall of Camp Carroll was a significant blow to 
the overall defense of Quang Tri Province, and has yet 
to be fully explained. Team 155 contemporary after- 
action reports indicate that the fate of the 56th Regi- 
ment "remains unknown," after it had been told the 
division and corps had no more reserves to support 
it and that the commander should act as he thought 
proper. Personnel of the regiment had made radio con- 
tact with the NVA to negotiate terms of capitulation, 
or as the Communists would call it, a "collective com- 
bat refusal."* Camper had advised the ARVN com- 
mander, Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Dinh, to break 
out with available armored vehicles and those soldi- 
ers willing to fight. When Dinh refused, Camper re- 
quested evacuation of the Americans. 

Men of the 24th NVA Regiment were coming 
through the camp gate as the helicopter landed at Car- 
roll to get Camper, Major Joseph Brown, Jr., USA, and 
their ARVN radio operators. Camper loaded another 
30 ARVN soldiers who had kept their weapons and 
"were willing to fight on." Battery B, 1st VNMC Ar- 
tillery Battalion, continued to resist until overrun at 

*On 3 April 1972, the 56th ARVN Regiment commander made 
a broadcast on Radio Hanoi asking other South Vietnamese units 
to surrender. 



Marine Corps Historical Collection Marine Corps Historical Collection 

LtCol Ngo Van Dinh commanded VNMC Brigade 258 Col Phan Van Chung, senior brigade commander, was 

at At Tu and later as a colonel during the Quang Tri with VNMC Brigade 369 as part of the national reserve 

counteroffensive. He had attended the U.S. Marine as the spring offensive began. He was a North Vietnam 

basic course and was an 18-year service veteran. native and graduate of the U.S. Marine basic course. 

North Vietnamese infantry move through defensive positions at Camp Carroll. In the 
foreground is an M42 twin 40mm Duster, an antiaircraft weapon used for ground defense. 

North Vietnamese Army Photo 



dusk. In the confusion caused by this surrender, none 
of the artillery pieces was destroyed. By the time the 
South Vietnamese called an air strike on the base, the 
NVA had moved the self-propelled guns. Eventually 
1,000 soldiers of the 2,200 man regiment regained 
friendly lines. 14 

Mai Loc Exposed 

Because of their mutually supporting missions, the 
fall of Camp Carroll left Mai Loc open to enemy 
ground attack without supporting artillery fire. The 
Marine advisors at Mai Loc had been without rest for 
more than % hours. During this period, Captains Earl 
A. Kruger, David S. Randall, and Clark D. Embrey 
time and again had moved between the brigade oper- 
ations center and battalion command posts across fire- 
swept terrain to erect fallen AN/RC292 radio anten- 
nas in order to maintain communications with the 3d 
ARVN Division. Major Joy realized that the tactical 
situation had become untenable and briefed his ad- 
visory personnel on the withdrawal plan. At the same 
time he directed the destruction of all equipment that 
could not be carried. Stragglers from the 8th VNMC 
Battalion from Holcomb and elements of the 4th 
VNMC Battalion from Sarge and Nui Ba Ho, as well 
as remnants of the 56th ARVN Regiment from Car- 
roll, began consolidating at Mai Loc with the battal- 
ion of regional forces located there. 15 

By this time, Major Boomer and his small band ar- 
rived at Mai Loc as the rest of the Alpha command 
group straggled in. The 4th VNMC Battalion, which 
had been 632 strong, could muster only 285 of its Ma- 
rines, including the wounded who had been able to 
walk. In recalling the incident, Major Boomer said that 
the NVA ground attack on Sarge and Nui Ba Ho had 
been carried out flawlessly, that enemy artillery was 
accurate and intense, and that he had the distinct im- 
pression that the 3d ARVN Division headquarters was 
not convinced of the urgency of the situation. 16 Boom- 
er and Captain Ray Smith, both believing the other 
to be dead, were reunited outside of Mai Loc. They 
remained outside the base perimeter with the survivors 
of their battalion "watching it receive a great deal of 
accurate enemy artillery fire," but were not attacked 
themselves. Joy briefed them by radio about the plans 
to pull out. Smith and Boomer's exodus was not over. 17 

The Dong Ha Bridge Destroyed 

While Ripley completed preparations at the main 
highway bridge, Major Smock and the ARVN engi- 
neers went to complete the demolition of the railroad 

bridge upstream. Finally, with all the explosives in 
place, Ripley took electric blasting caps from his pocket 
and crimped them to communications wire and ran 
this from the charges. As a precaution he had also pre- 
pared 30 to 45 minutes of time fuze before attempt- 
ing an electrical detonation. Clearing the fence, he ran 
the wire to a nearby M151 utility truck, a Jeep which 
had been hit by shell fire and was still burning. Ripley 
touched the communication wire to either terminal, 
but the bridge did not blow. Now it seemed the fate 
of South Vietnam's northern provinces rested on a 
burning fuze sputtering its way toward 500 pounds 
of high explosive. After what seemed an eternity, the 
time fuze was nearing its end. The tell-tale smoke trail 
was now out of view and Ripley "waited and hoped." 

At this time, the command group of the 1st ARVN 
Armored Brigade reached Dong Ha and the unit's 
commander and his advisor, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis 
C. Wagner, Jr., moved to The Triangle to see the bridge 
their unit was supposed to cross and to assume com- 
mand of the Dong Ha area. Colonel Nguyen Trong 
Luat and Lieutenant Colonel Wagner felt that the 
bridge should not be destroyed until the situation was 
clearer. At this time the only enemy action was sporad- 
ic small arms and mortar fire met by friendly air and 
naval gunfire. Suddenly, the bridge blew! The span, 
curling in the predicted twisting manner, was severed 
from the abutment and "settled into the river." The 
wooden roadway was to continue to burn for several 
days. Ripley reported to Turley that both Dong Ha 
bridges had been destroyed at 1630* 18 

Now all the firing had stopped and there was a calm 
for a few moments. Then, on the north side, armor 
noise was evident once more as the NVA medium 
tanks shifted from their positions to make room for the 
amphibious tanks to come forward to the river's edge. 
The enemy seemed determined to cross. Ripley saw 
four of them ready to cross and immediately called a 
naval gunfire mission. The Buchanan sailed within the 
five -fathom curve, a minimum safe depth, to get 
within effective range and let go with a salvo. All four 
tanks were destroyed on the river bank. Ripley later re- 
marked that it probably was one of the few ships in 
the Navy that rated four enemy tanks painted on her 
stacks. Subsequently, a B-52 strike, which had earlier 
been scheduled for that area, silenced the tank activi- 
ty to the east of Dong Ha, for the time being at least. 18 

*Team 155's Colonel Metcalf stated "a great amount of confu- 
sion" existed about the blowing of the Dong Ha bridges. Eventual- 
ly credit was given to the 57th ARVN Regiment, 20th Tanks, and 
the 3d VNMC Battalion. (Metcalf intvw) 



Photo courtesy of Col John W. Ripley, USMC 
A reconnaissance aircraft photographed the Dong Ha Bridge shortly after its destruction. 
To the left is "The Triangle" road junction of Highways 1 and 9 and to the right is the 
Dye Marker bunker and the bridge and its burning road bed. At far right are Communist 
armored vehicles pulled off the road, exposed to air attack and unable to advance further. 

With their armored thrusts thwarted at the Dong 
Ha and mouth of the Cua Viet River, the determined 
enemy exerted pressure in the western portion of the 
battle area. The Cam Lo Bridge, directly south of the 
abandoned combat base at Charlie 3 was the next ob- 
jective. The 1st ARVN Armored Brigade's advisor cal- 
led for airstrikes to destroy the bridge and naval gun- 
fire support was called for by the Ai Tu forward com- 
mand post and fire from the guns of the Buchanan, 
Strauss, and Waddell squelched the enemy movement. 
All night long, hundreds of naval projectiles were 
called in upon the enemy. It was not uncommon to 
call in "danger close" missions, that is firing upon tar- 
gets that were within 300 meters of friendly forces. 

Callsign BAT-21 

At 1800 on 2 April, a U.S. Air Force Douglas EB-66 
electronic warfare aircraft was hit by a Communist mis- 
sile over the DMZ while covering a B-52 strike. The 
aircraft radio callsign was "BAT-21" and the recovery 
of its sole survivor, also known as BAT-21, began to 
take shape. 20 Air Force Captain David K. Mann, 
together with the Pacific Air Force Headquarters oper- 
ations analysis directorate, concluded that the mission 
"was possibly the most extensive SAR effort ever at- 
tempted." In mounting the largest -scale search and res- 
cue operation of the war, Seventh Air Force, acting for 
MACV, assumed control of all American supporting 
arms within the operating area of the 3rd ARVN Di- 
vision for the next 11 days. A no-fire zone was placed 

around the American airmen to protect them and U.S. 
aircraft from "friendly fire." The authority to request 
and control air, naval gunfire, and artillery was 
preempted by the I Direct Air Support Center (I 
DASC) at Da Nang. This sent ANGUCO'S Lieutenant 
Colonel Gray into a rage that drove him "absolutely 
up the wall. I could not convince the Air Force colonel 
in Da Nang to change his position. Neither could I 
get his U.S. Army seniors to even try to change his po- 
sition." That there were other Americans and South 
Vietnamese at risk had no weight. 31 

According to Major General Frederick J. Kroesen, 
at FRAC, this rescue mission and the absolute fire con- 
trol vested in the Air Force "was a peacetime system 
imposed on a wartime situation for which it was to- 
tally anachronistic." Remembered Lieutenant Colonel 
Turley, then at the Ai Tu Combat Base, the "unilater- 
al rear area arrangement of giving the USAF control 
of all TAC air, naval gunfire and artillery fire proba- 
bly seemed like a rational decision to officers eighty 
kilometers from the battle lines. However, it was a trag- 
ic decision for the 3d ARVN Division."" General 
Kroesen concluded, "no commander in MR 1 could 
change it and no command authority in Saigon could 
be convinced of the need to change it." 23 

The 3d ARVN Division continued to fire organic 
artillery, despite the no-fire zones, and rescue force 
aircraft did attack North Vietnamese forces, but the 
enemy was not met with the kind of concentrated 



Photo courtesy of LtCol George Philip III, USMC (Ret) 
Artillerymen break out projectiles from shipping containers and fuze them for use at 
Vietnamese Marine artillery positions at Mai hoc combat base. This was a time-consuming 
process and it limited mobility when a large amount of ammunition was in this condition. 

Communist soldiers pursued South Vietnamese and American stragglers after the fall 
of the defensive positions. This was often a confused situation that saw the fragmenta- 
tion of units on both sides as one moved to escape and the other moved to destroy them. 

North Vietnamese Army Photo 



defensive fires needed at a critical period. Lieutenant 
Colonel Turley cites this as one reason that the then- 
critical Cam Lo River Bridge was not destroyed prior 
to its capture by the Communist forces. To the sur- 
prise and frustration of the American and Vietnamese 
fighting for their lives to hold collapsing positions 
south of the DMZ, this MACV operation took on a 
life of its own, seemingly out of proportion to the 
defense of Quang Tri Province. 24 

Mai Loc Evacuated 

Low on ammunition and without resupply, Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Bao, the 147th Brigade commander 
recommended that Mai Loc be evacuated. General 
Giai concurred and the evacuation plan went into ef- 
fect. All equipment that could not be carried was des- 
troyed. 25 The Bravo command group of the 4th VNMC 
Battalion, which had reorganized at the village of Mai 
Loc, led the column eastward toward Dong Ha. Earlier 
the executive officer of this battalion had watched a 
U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter come in on a 
resupply run. He noticed that the helicopter had flown 
low to the ground and had not been fired upon dur- 
ing its approach. Taking an azimuth on its route, just 

as night was falling, he then put the stragglers in 
column and charted the way to Dong Ha. Brigade \Al 
was evacuating Mai Loc, but it was leaving as an or- 
ganized fighting unit, with a point, flank security, a 
rear guard, and with all of its wounded. 26 

Left as the rear echelon of the withdrawing brigade 
was the recently attached 7th VNMC Battalion, from 
VNMC Brigade 258. Major Andrew D. DeBona and 
Captain Ronald R. Rice were present at 1815 when the 
order to pull out arrived. They would later recall the 
"monumental" effort for the battalion to disengage, as 
two of three rifle companies were fighting the 66th 
NVA Regiment. As darkness fell, the battalion was 
separated into disorganized groups mingling with the 
Brigade 147 column or preceding on their own towards 
Ai Tu. The battalion command group started across 
country on a compass azimuth, with two companies 
and an assortment of civilian refugees. The 
20-kilometer, cross-country march did not end until 
1000 the next day. For the two Marine advisors it 
proved to be a long, dark, wet, and anxiety-ridden 
ordeal. 27 

The 3d ARVN Division had failed to hold its main 
defensive positions in Quang Tri Province. 


Battered Quang Tri Holds 

The Fighting Continues— At Dong Ha — Development in the West 
The Fight for Pedro — Bright Lights —The NVA Mount a Third Offensive in MR 1 

The Fighting Continues 

On 3 April 1972, 1 Corps' Lieutenant General Lam, 
now convinced that the action in the north was the 
predicted Communist offensive, requested reinforce- 
ments for the Quang Tri area. After three days of con- 
tinuous and brutal fighting, the ARVN tanks and 
Marines had held their ground against superior North 
Vietnamese forces. The destruction of the bridge at 
Dong Ha had slowed the impetus of the NVA attack 
across the DMZ. 1 Infantry, armor, and naval gunfire 
had won this fight, since, during these days, heavy 
cloud cover and NVA air defenses had precluded ef- 
fective close air support and had prevented assessment 
of the results of the B-52 strikes flown each day against 
suspected enemy concentrations and staging areas. 2 
The situation was still tenuous, and General Lam 
wanted to launch a counterattack as soon as weather 
permitted the use of close air support. 

During his return south on 3 April, Lieutenant 
Colonel Turley slept for the first time since the inva- 
sion began. The responsibility for assisting with the 
defense of Dong Ha was left to the U.S. Marine advi- 
sors and ANGLICO Marines with VNMC Brigade 258 
at Ai Tu. In Saigon that afternoon, an anxious Turley 
met Rear Admiral Robert S. Salzer, Commander Naval 
Forces Vietnam, and briefed the admiral on the situ- 
ation along the DMZ, using maps and log entries. Sal- 
zer directed Turley to return to MR 1 with Colonel 
Joshua W. Dorsey and the VNMC Division. 3 That same 
day, Lieutenant Colonel Camper had arrived at Da 
Nang and reported to General Kroesen for debrief- 
ing. Camper reported that the enemy had launched 
a massive invasion in the north and that civilians and 
ARVN troops were fleeing southward in panic and 
confusion. The 56th ARVN Regiment had surrendered 
Camp Carroll to the NVA without attempting to des- 
troy its artillery, ammunition, or facilities. Camper's 
report confirmed Turley's assessment of the situation 
in MR 1 that had only begun to filter through to I 
Corps and MACV. 4 

During the week after Easter, the headquarters of 
the VNMC Marine Division and VNMC Brigade 369, 
which had been the Joint General Staff reserve in Sai- 
gon, moved by air transport to the Phu Bai Airfield. 

The division headquarters and its supporting elements 
established themselves in the Citadel at Hue, under 
the command of Lieutenant General Le Nguyen 
Khang, who was put in command of the Hue City 
defenses. The subordinate brigades of Khang's divi- 
sion were under the tactical control of General Giai 
at Quang Tri City. Brigade 147, consisting of the 4th 
and 8th Battalions, was at Hue City to refit and act 
as the corps' reserve. Brigade 369 took charge of a large 
and critical area north of the My Chanh River. 

Besides the additional Marine brigade, the arrival of 
the ARVN Ranger Command, which consisted of three 
groups of three battalions each, supplemented by 
another Ranger group from Quang Nam, bolstered the 
troops of the 3d ARVN Division and seemingly en- 
sured the successful defense of the northern provinces. 
The presence of these reinforcements strengthened 
General Lam's resolve to regain lost territory. 5 

Brigade 369, commanded by Colonel Pham Van 
Chung, was given an area of operations bordered on 
the east by the South China Sea, on the north by the 
Nhung River, and on the west by the jungles of Hai 
Lang District. The brigade's 5th VNMC Battalion, the 
Black Dragons, arrived by truck from Phu Bai and were 
dropped off on QL-1 about five kilometers north of 
the My Chanh River. Colonel Chung ordered the bat- 
talion westward to occupy Fire Support Base Jane. En- 
route, the battalion advisor, Major Donald L. Price, 
observed a VNAF helicopter gunship circling low over 
the unit's route. Suddenly he saw a smoking contrail 
streak towards the helicopter. Price first thought an 
NVA gunner had fired an RPG (rocket-propelled 
grenade) antitank rocket, "a dumb mistake for the 
gunner in view of the gunship 's firepower." Then Price 
realized the rocket had changed course as the helicop- 
ter banked hard to avoid it. As the battalion continued 
on to Jane, they captured a young NVA soldier, who 
was dazed by the gunship's attack. On questioning, 
he admitted the Communists had a small surface-to- 
air missile that one man could fire, that would "chase 
the fire in the airplane." It was the heat-seeking SA-7. 
Major Price reported this information to his senior ad- 
visor at brigade, Major Robert F. Sheridan. They 
recalled that the conduct and effectiveness of airborne 




Marine Corps Historical Collection 
Vietnamese Marines were among reinforcements sent 
north in Military Region 1 soon after the Spring Offen- 
sive began. They display personal weapons and equip- 
ment carried by fully loaded Marines in combat. 

control and close air support significantly changed 
from that time onward. 6 

At Dong Ha 
While reinforcements were hurriedly being shuttled 
northward, the 3d VNMC Battalion and 20th ARVN 
Tank Battalion repulsed repeated enemy attempts to 
capture the now-ruined town of Dong Ha. The ene- 
my's artillery and mortar fire continued unabated and 
each night, using small craft, he attempted to infiltrate 
platoon-sized units across the river on either side of 
the blown bridges. Initially, the 20th Tank Battalion's 
crews illuminated these attempted probes with their 
tank-mounted searchlights. The searchlights quickly 
became targets for NVA artillery and mortar fire and 
after two or three nights were no longer effective. Dur- 
ing daylight, intermittent sniper fire came from the 
north side of the river. A steady rain cloaked the bat- 
tle area and allowed enemy troops to make small, un- 
detected forays along the south bank. In spite of 
numerous minor penetrations of the thin defensive 
line, from 3 to 8 April, the small combined force 
prevented the NVA from establishing a major bridge- 
head. The gunfire support ships which delivered 
planned fires and responded to urgent requests from 

the field fully supported the defenders. Although the 
tank units shifted regularly to alternate positions, the 
battalion advisor, Army Major Jim Smock felt that the 
blocking mission assigned to the tank battalion nul- 
lified the tanks' mobility, firepower, and shock effect. 
Additionally, lack of aggressive leadership and the 
reluctance of the ARVN tank commander to visit for- 
ward positions increased the problems of the tankers' 
morale and desertion rate. With the only information 
regarding the friendly situation being the sight of the 
local forces withdrawing through their defensive po- 
sitions, the individual tankers assumed that they had 
been abandoned to a last-ditch effort to hold Dong 

Nearly 20,000 civilian refugees had already fled 
south, but there were an estimated 28,000 more to 
come. 7 It would be inviting disaster to allow them to 
move, in unbroken pace, through the Dong Ha area 
defensive positions; they would have to bypass to the 
east. To reduce the problem of enemy infiltration, 3d 
Battalion's Major Binh blocked refugees from coming 
into Dong Ha village. Brigadier General Thomas W. 
Bowen, Jr., deputy commander of FRAC, had noti- 
fied Ai Tu that "all restrictions are off on air" 8 Arc 
Light operations continued north of the Cua Viet River 
irrespective of civilian presence, "accepted and en- 
dorsed as a military necessity . . ." by the American 
and South Vietnamese authorities. 9 

With Dong Ha devoid of civilians, looting of the 
destroyed houses and household possessions occurred 

A UH-1 gunship makes a rocket-firing run. As "air- 
borne artillery," the helicopter gunships flown by Viet- 
namese and American forces were used to provide fire 
support while units were moving and without their 
own weapons in position. In this task, helicopters were 
vulnerable to the SA-7 missiles used by the NVA. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



Photo courtesy of Maj Charles W. King, USMC (Rer) 
An advisor and his radio operator were essential to the South Vietnamese for obtaining 
American supporting arms during the defense of Quang Tri Province. Maj William R. 
Warren and the Marine carrying his PRC25 radio are with the 6th VNMC Battalion. 

by soldiers in search of food and other belongings. At 
Hue, General Khang heard about the looting and took 
immediate steps to stop any misconduct by his serv- 
ice. Khang issued instructions by printed proclama- 
tion which was distributed over the battlefield from 
helicopters. The letter cited the achievements and the 
fighting spirit of the Vietnamese Marines against over- 
whelmingly superior enemy forces. He acknowledged 
that their accomplishments had given a new spirit to 
the will of the Vietnamese populace and congratulat- 
ed his warriors for their valiant deeds. Then in no un- 
certain terms he stated that due to the current tactical 
situation, the conduct of operations in densely popu- 
lated and built-up areas was necessary, but that all 
". . . fighting men are instructed to assist the people 
in every way possible to protect lives and property. Ma- 
rine unit commanders are ordered to kill on sight any 
Marine who is caught red-handed robbing!" The loot- 
ing ceased immediately. 10 

A group of 250 men, comprising the 57th ARVN 
Regiment, arrived at Dong Ha to give some relief to 
the 3d VNMC Battalion and the 20th ARVN tanks. 
This battalion-sized regiment was assigned an area 

from Highway 9 to the naval base boat ramp on the 
Cua Viet River. The still-rattled ARVN unit permit- 
ted the enemy to gain a foothold on the south side 
shortly after they arrived, although the 20th's tanks 
provided support by fire. Major Binh, disgusted with 
the 57th ARVN, requested that another Marine bat- 
talion be sent forward to reinforce his battalion. 
Developments in the West 
Before the invasion, the 1st VNMC Battalion, oper- 
ating from Fire Support Base Pedro, had encountered 
a company-size NVA patrol and had killed 32 enemy 
soldiers. One of the dead had a map indicating every 
fire support base and trail in the vicinity. It was evi- 
dent that the enemy had more than a passing interest 
in the area, so the Brigade 258 commander, Lieutenant 
Colonel Dinh, decided to strengthen his western flank 
with mines. By now, the 1st Battalion, with Major 
Robert C. Cockell as senior Marine advisor and Cap- 
tain Lawrence H. Livingston as his assistant, had laid 
approximately 5,000 mines along the forward edge of 
the western perimeter of Ai Tu out to Pedro except 
for the road leading into the fire support base itself. 
On 4 April, the Bravo group with Captain Livingston 



was hit by a "sapper" attack during the early morning 
hours. The attack was stopped short when the NVA 
were caught in the crossfire between the Alpha and 
Bravo groups. 1 1 The question the advisors now asked 
was, when will the enemy attack next? 

On 5 April, General Giai had alerted the 6th 
VNMC Battalion at Ai Tu to prepare to move to the 
vicinity of Dong Ha at first light the next day. Major 
Do Huu Tung, the battalion commander, after a 
reconnaissance to Dong Ha, began briefing his unit 
on the move north. Assisting in this were his advisors, 
Major William R. Warren and Captain William D. 
Wischmeyer. By 1300, however, the plans had been 
changed; the 6th VNMC Battalion was going to Pedro 
instead and the 1st VNMC Battalion was moved back 
to Ai Tu to assume a portion of the perimeter defense. 

Further south, by now, VNMC Brigade 369 was to 
the west of Hai Lang and had the mission of keeping 
open this highway, QL-1, the main supply route from 
Hue to the battle area. The brigade's battalions oc- 
cupied a series of old and abandoned U.S. Army fire 
support bases in open, rolling terrain. They included 
FSBs Barbara, Sally, Nancy, and Jane, which blocked 

Under fire at Dong Ha, Capt John W. Ripley scram- 
bles to get his dead radioman's equipment and 
another American advisor helps wounded to the 
shelter of the M48 tank that will take them to safety. 
Maj Jim Smock was wounded during this incident. 

David Burnett Contact Press Images 

the approaches into southern Quang Tri Province from 
the Ba Long River Valley and the Hai Lang national 
forest. 12 

On the morning of 6 April, some unexpected visi- 
tors arrived at Dong Ha in a rented Citroen automo- 
bile. They were news reporters and television 
cameramen intent on getting the story of the Dong 
Ha standoff first-hand. The news contingent reached 
the mobile command posts of the 3d VNMC Battalion 
and the 20th Tank Battalion as an enemy force ap- 
proached through a woodline a scant 50 meters to the 
north. Although Captain Ripley was concerned with 
the pressing tactical situation, the ring of correspon- 
dents closed in on the American Marine. As micro- 
phones were thrust into his face, and cameras whirred 
away, the clucking sound of mortar rounds being 
dropped into their tubes was distinctly heard. 

Ripley yelled for everyone to take cover as an incom- 
ing round detonation rent the air. The explosion sent 
bodies flying in all directions. Ripley, ringed in by the 
newsmen, was unhurt, but the shell had killed Ripley's 
radioman and all seven of the correspondents were 
wounded. As the thumping of mortar rounds in- 
creased, Ripley ran back across the field where the 
group had initially been taken under fire. He was at- 
tempting to find a radio antenna to replace one that 
was destroyed when his operator was killed. He want- 
ed to get the radio operating in order to call for a med- 
ical evacuation helicopter. The tempo of the mortar 
attack increased. Ripley yelled to Major Jim Smock, 
"They've bracketed us!" Smock, himself wounded, 
quickly assisted the other wounded in boarding an ar- 
mored personnel carrier. A nearby explosion sent the 
tank advisor sprawling into a ditch with a painful back 
wound. Unaccountably, Ripley remained unscatched 
as he moved through the dense fire. 

The armored vehicles pulled back from the impact 
area on orders from their commander. Ripley flagged 
down a withdrawing M113 and helped some of the 
wounded climb aboard. The APC pulled off, however, 
leaving other newsmen in the ditch. With the persu- 
asion of his leveled CAR15 rifle, Ripley convinced the 
commander of the last tank departing the battlefield 
to stop. As he helped Smock and the rest of the 
wounded Americans onto the superstructure of the 
tank, he thought that the enemy was concentrating 
his fire on them. The tank departed abruptly, leaving 
Ripley amid exploding mortar rounds. Later, Major 
Smock was to credit Ripley for displaying "the only 
resemblance of command and control on the battle- 
field," in that he had remained calm and had immedi- 



ately organized a blocking force that had enabled the 
evacuation of all the wounded. 

As Ripley stooped to lift the body of his radio oper- 
ator, he realized he was all alone on the battlefield. 
He saw a squad of NVA infantrymen moving across 
Highway 9 and into the cemetery to the northwest. 
Although they were less than 50 meters away, the ene- 
my simply watched as the American Marine captain 
shouldered his dead radio operator and, without 
glancing back, started walking toward friendly lines. 
He expected to be shot in the back at any moment 
as he walked down the road to relative safety. Only 
when the NVA saw that Major Binh and his two "cow- 
boys" had returned to search for their advisor did they 
open fire* The small group made its way to friendly 
lines through a maze of burning buildings with the 
NVA in hot pursuit. 13 Suddenly, a large rocket shot 
from ground level in the northwest sector and head- 
ed toward an airborne FAC spotter aircraft. Ripley, who 
had never before seen a surface-to-air missile (SAM), 
said "it looked like a telephone pole lumbering 
skyward." The SAM missed, perhaps due to the low 
altitude of the OV-10, but the enemy's threat to al- 
lied air took on a new meaning. 

This enemy antiaircraft capability, now at the for- 
ward edge of the battle area, severely hampered search 
and rescue operations as well as restricted use of those 
AC-130s specially equipped for suppressive fire sup- 
port north of Ai Tu Combat Base. Overhead was an 
ANGLICO spotter in an OV-10 Bronco, who had been 
monitoring Ripley's radio messages and relaying them 
to the Ai Tu COC. This was one of the four Air Force 
Rockwell International OV-10 Bronco's that had recent- 
ly been taken north at the urging of Lieutenant 
Colonel Gray who, with Major Edward J. Dyer, was 
now supervising the ANGLICO effort for MR 1. 

The battered 3d VNMC Battalion withdrew from 
Dong Ha on 7 April, leaving the town defended by 
the 1st ARVN Armored Brigade, the 4th and 5th 
Ranger Groups, and the understrength 57th ARVN 
Regiment. The 1st and 3d Troops of the 20th Tank 
Battalion remained in support of the Ranger Groups, 
while the 2d Troop moved to Ai Tu Combat Base as 
a local reserve. The 3d VNMC Battalion rejoined its 
sister battalions, the 1st and the 6th, as VNMC Brigade 
258 consolidated its perimeter security at Ai Tu Com- 
bat Base and defended the western portion of the 3d 
ARVN Division's area. With the 20th ARVN Tank Bat- 

*The combination bodyguard-personal servants who accompa- 
nied Vietnamese officers and their advisors. 

talion, these Marines had stopped a reinforced NVA 
division at the river's edge at a place where, according 
to later intelligence reports, the NVA had foreseen lit- 
tle opposition. For the 3d VNMC Battalion, the cost 
had been high. Of 700 Marines who had been ordered 
to Dong Ha on 30 March, only 200 walked back to 
Ai Tu eight days later. 14 

The Fight for Pedro 

In Brigade 369's area of operations, the 5th VNMC 
Battalion commander. Lieutenant Colonel Ho Quang 
Lich, had his executive officer, Major Tran Ba, take two 
companies 1,200 meters west of Fire Support Base Jane 
to see if contact could be made with the enemy. Upon 
entering the Hai Lang Forest on 8 April, the South 
Vietnamese found a dug-in NVA force with mortars 
and machine guns. Major Ba and his command group 
were cut down at the outset and Captain Marshall R. 
Wells, the American advisor, assisted the now- 
leaderless Marines back to Jane. Major Price recalled 
that as this group broke cover from the treeline, ar- 
tillery and machine gun fire had to be used to shake 
off the pursuing NVA. The death of Ba, a well- 
respected combat officer and personality, caused 
brigade commander. Colonel Pham Van Chung, to 
focus on the danger from the west to QL-1 and the 
NVA concentrated there. A threat that FSB Jane was 
in position to meet. 15 

To the northwest, on the morning of 8 April, the 
6th Battalion command group arrived at Fire Support 
Base Pedro, but fortunately Major Tung elected not 
to position his command post inside the base. Instead, 
he moved his remaining three companies to the north 
and northeast of Pedro and formed them into a cres- 
cent perimeter which intersected a dirt road used to 
resupply Pedro from Ai Tu. Intelligence reports indi- 
cated that enemy armor would soon would attack from 
the west along the axis of Route 557- 

On 9 April, the battalion commander's judgement 
was vindicated. Following its established pattern of 
preceding a ground assault with intense artillery prepa- 
ration, the NVA opened fire on Ai Tu with 130mm 
guns shortly after midnight. The heavy barrages con- 
tinued throughout the night. At first light, enemy 
tanks could be seen through the haze to the west, roll- 
ing up Route 557 and across the open piedmont coun- 
tryside. By 0645, it was clear that 16 tanks and two 
battalions of enemy infantry were in the attack. 

The lead tanks, moving at an estimated 20 miles 
per hour, outstripped their supporting infantry and 
breached FSB Pedro's perimeter at approximately 0715. 



Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 

An aerial photograph shows destroyed armor 500 meters west of Fire Support Base Pedro 
during the Communist attacks. Annotations are from analysis conducted in 1972. Another 
possible explanation for the ARVN M48 tank was the close proximity of the fighting. 

They easily rolled over the two protecting bands of con- 
certina wire and collapsed the decrepit bunkers. An 
entire platoon outpost was overrun and annihilated 
either by gunfire or the churning tank tracks. The Ma- 
rines inside Pedro crouched in their holes while fir- 
ing their small arms. The tanks rolled over the entire 
area, killing some of the defenders in their positions 
and taking those who had fled toward Ai Tu under 
fire with their main guns. While two T-54s were churn- 
ing up Pedro's defensive positions, the other tanks 
without waiting for their infantry protection started 
moving across the mine field. Nine tanks were lost in 
the process. 

Although there was a 1,000-foot ceiling that 
prevented close air support, horizontal visibility was 
good. Upon seeing the first two T-54s, Major Warren 
called Major Easley at brigade on the advisor's radio 
net. He requested reinforcement by the troops of the 
20th Tank Battalion, which was in reserve at Ai Tu, 
and also called for a heavy artillery concentration to 
be fired on the enemy infantry which followed in trace 
one-half mile behind the assaulting tanks. As he was 
talking to Easley, he reported, "The NVA tanks are 
flying red over white, swallow-tail pennants from their 
radio antennas." Almost immediately, all the pennants 
disappeared. Obviously the NVA were not only em- 
ploying fluent English-speaking operators on their ra- 

dios but also were coordinated and tied together with 
radio communications since all the tanks reacted 
simultaneously. 18 

As reports of the enemy tank attack came into 
VNMC Brigade 258's headquarters over both the Viet- 
namese tactical and U.S. advisor nets, Lieutenant 
Colonel Dinh began assembling a reaction force. Wi- 
thin 30 minutes, two infantry companies of the 1st 
VNMC Battalion accompanied by Captain Livingston 
as advisor, and an armored force of eight M48 tanks 
and 12 MH3 armored personnel carriers from 2d 
Troop, 20th ARVN Tank Battalion, were moving 
quickly to reinforce the 6th VNMC Battalion. At the 
same time Vietnamese Marine 105mm howitzer fire, 
augmented by two barrages from ships just offshore, 
forced the NVA infantry to withdraw from the battle- 
field and seek refuge in the Ba Long Valley. 

Meanwhile, a hole had opened up in the overcast 
sky, allowing four Vietnamese A-l Skyraiders to attack 
the tanks threatening the 6th VNMC Battalion's com- 
mand post. The bombs knocked out five tanks that 
were maneuvering toward the slight knoll on which 
the command group was located. Although the 
Communist-built tanks were within easy striking dis- 
tance of the battalion's command post, inexplicably 
they did not fire their main guns before the air strikes 
came in. 



The break in the weather and its attendant air sup- 
port had provided the time necessary for the reaction 
force to arrive on the scene. A brief tank battle oc- 
curred as the leading ARVN M48s moved into posi- 
tion around the 6th VNMC Battalion's command post, 
with the M48 proving more than a match for the 
Communist-built T-54s. The ARVN tank crews 
achieved first- or second-round hits on T-54s at ranges 
up to 1,500 meters. The NVA tanks' fire control sys- 
tem seemed not to be as effective since the T-54 tank 
crews appeared to try to bracket their targets. When 
the smoke had cleared the ARVN crews had destroyed 
five T-54s without losing any of their tanks. Major 
Nguyen Dang Hoa had organized the counterattack 
with his own 1st VNMC Battalion and the Bravo com- 
mand group of the battalion. The Marines, mounted 
on tanks and APCs, quickly retook Pedro. Bravo 
Group, with Captain Livingston, moved through the 
fire support base and swept south for about 1,000 
meters. The sweep accounted for about 100 enemy 
dead and one captured tank. 

Captain Livingston, later recalling the incident, stat- 
ed that the enemy employed poor tactics: their ar- 
tillery, tanks, and infantry were used in a 
uncoordinated manner. He said that the Vietnamese 
Marines were terrified when first confronted by the 
enemy armor and reacted in an "uncontrolled state 
of panic," but once they realized that their LAWs could 
knock out a T-54, they reacted with confidence. In fact, 
some of the Vietnamese Marines crouched in their 
holes and let the tanks run over them and then hit 
the tank in the rear with a LAW. The 1st VNMC Bat- 
talion, over six months, was credited with destroying 
more than 60 enemy tanks with the LAW. A fellow 
advisor said that Livingston probably had "more ex- 
perience with nose-on-nose tank battles than any other 
U.S. Marine" during this period. 

Within two hours after Major Hoa's force had be- 
gun its counterattack, 13 of the 16 T-54 tanks had been 
destroyed by mines, tank fire, air strikes, or infantry 
weapons. One tank escaped, but the remaining two 
were captured. One of the tanks was captured in a 
most unorthodox manner. An unnamed VNMC pri- 
vate in an outpost position held fast in his hole as one 
of the T-54s came clanking up a slight incline. The 
angle of the tank's bow, as it climbed the hill, obstruct- 
ed the driver's view; he could not see the private's po- 
sition. Suddenly the Marine leaped up with his Ml6 
rifle and motioned for the driver and the crew, who 
had their hatches open, to dismount. The NVA, look- 
ing somewhat sheepish, cleared the tank, turning it 

over to the Vietnamese Marines. This tank, along with 
the other captured one, was driven back to the Ai Tu 
Combat Base. There, the tanks were adorned with 
huge Vietnamese Marine Corps emblems and later 
sent to Saigon as war trophies. 

On 10 and 11 April, additional attacks were beaten 
back by the Pedro defenders with the NVA leaving 211 
dead behind. On 12 April, the Bravo command group 
of the 1st VNMC Battalion, with Captain Livingston, 
was ambushed by an estimated two battalions of NVA 
which had infiltrated during the previous night and 
had dug in astride the dirt road leading back to Ai 
Tu. The enemy had recoilless rifles and antiaircraft 
guns in the fighting holes with them. Major Tung, 6th 
VNMC Battalion commander, deployed his units and, 
after a reconnaissance by fire, ordered an assault led 
by his executive officer, who was killed during the at- 
tack. Captain Livingston rallied the Marines, then led 
the armor assault force until the senior company com- 
mander was able to direct the action. The shock ef- 
fect of the armor, immediately followed by the 
supporting infantry proved to be too much for the dis- 
ciplined enemy. Although some withdrew, most 
fought and died in their holes. Captain Livingston 
received the Silver Star Medal for his courage and 
leadership while under fire. 17 

An enemy prisoner and some captured documents 
revealed that the NVA's effort against the Marines' 
western front had consisted of an infantry regiment 
and a tank battalion. Had the enemy been successful 
in his attack, he would have destroyed the combat ef- 
fectiveness of the 3d ARVN Division's forces north of 
the Thach Han River. The enemy, however, had not 
been successful and the Vietnamese Marine Corps 
proved that individuals could indeed destroy enemy 
armor with their own antitank weapons. The M72 
LAW had been thoroughly tested against armor in a 
wide variety of controlled situations during its develop- 
ment and had been carried by U.S. Marines for years 
in Vietnam. The NVA offensive, however, provided its 
first battlefield test against enemy armor. Its success 
in this role bolstered the morale of the South Viet- 
namese forces. While it was reassuring for the Marines 
to know they could stop the mighty T-54 main battle 
tank with their LAWs, it was the Communist 130mm 
gun that was the real problem. The incessant pound- 
ing of the "130s" indicated that, despite setbacks, the 
North Vietnamese intended to continue their attack 
toward Quang Tri and toward their final objective — 
the ancient imperial capital of Hue. 

In the week following the battles at Pedro, numer- 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
Special forces such as these MACV Special Operations Group maritime commandos at 
Da Nang were used to recover the American airmen evading capture north of the Cam 
ho River. Though wearing South Vietnamese uniforms, most of the weapons they carry 
are of Communist origin. The two submachine guns, however, are Swedish Karl Gustavs. 

ous enemy attempts to break the stabilized 3d ARVN 
Division defense lines were turned back. I Corps head- 
quarters repeatedly reported that South Vietnamese 
infantry, tanks, and artillery, augmented by U.S. naval 
gunfire, caused the attacking enemy to break and 
withdraw in disorder. Continued bad weather, 
however, precluded the use of VNAF or U.S. tactical 
air power. General Lam, commanding I Corps, con- 
tinued to plan for a counteroffensive as soon as the 
weather lifted and his air support could be employed. 
Another factor noted by General Kroesen was that 
General Lam's horoscope was favorable for such a 
move. 18 

Bright Lights 

Concurrent with these events, the BAT-21 incident 
still continued just south of the DMZ. By this time 
in the war, political pressure would not permit any 
more Americans to be captured, the South Vietnamese 
notwithstanding. 1 ^ Marine Lieutenant Colonel Andrew 
E. Andersen was the officer-in-charge of the MACV- 
SOG Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC) tasked 
with the location and recovery of American evaders 

and prisoners in Southeast Asia * His "Bright Light" 
teams provided for the recovery of Americans after the 
usual search and rescue efforts had ended. He was 
nearing the end of his tour in 1972 when the Spring 
Invasion began and he was sent to MR 1 to direct the 
recovery of airmen and any U.S. advisors who were still 
behind enemy lines. Prior to this, two Air force OV-lOs 
and an HH-53 had been shot down and two Army 
helicopters additionally were lost, before the recovery 
effort was turned over to the JPRC. 

Arriving at the 3d ARVN Division headquarters at 
Quang Tri City, Lieutenant Colonel Andersen and a 
team of two American and six Vietnamese special 

*MACV's 2,000-man Studies and Observation Group, commonly 
known as "SOG," conducted special warfare tasks throughout 
Southeast Asia. By definition, special warfare consisted of the three 
interrelated tasks of counterinsurgency, unconventional warfare, and 
psychological warfare. Unconventional warfare included guerrilla 
operations, resistance operations, and escape and evasion operations, 
MACV- SOG was composed of units from the Army, Navy, and Air 
R>rce and some 8,000 local irregulars. Marine Corps units were not 
assigned to the task force, bur direct support was provided through- 
out the war and individual Marines were assigned to fill various billets 
within the command. 



forces troops from the SOG-Maritime Operations 
Branch moved west out Highway 9 to an ARVN block- 
ing position at the Cam Lo bridge. From this location 
it was possible for his men, dressed as civilians, to cross 
the Cam Lo River and recover the evaders* Andersen 
established the no-fire "boxes" around the American 
evaders and felt that the. 3d ARVN Division "had quit 
by this time!" As many as 90 air strikes a day were run 
in direct support of the rescue effort. By 13 April, two 
American airmen were recovered alive by the JPRC 
teams of Lieutenant Colonel Andersen. Andersen 
wrote later that there "were no friendly forces forward 
of our recovery position . . . Khe Sanh to our west 
was lost and a major enemy thrust to cross at Dong 
Ha was expected at any moment." 20 

The month's first two weeks also witnessed the ar- 
rival of III Marine Amphibious Force units responding 
to direction from Seventh Fleet, CinCPac, and JCS. In 
addition to forces afloat off the DMZ, two Marine 
fighter squadrons flew in from Iwakuni, Japan, with 
their mount-out supplies, and set up at Da Nang Air 
Base. Highly sophisticated electronic sensor aircraft 
were deployed to bolster the overall air effort. ANGLI- 
CO's Sub Unit One expanded from 89 to 191 person- 
nel. On 13 April, air observers from the Okinawa- 
based 3d Marine Division reported to Sub Unit One 
in Da Nang. On 14 April, more air observers, newly 
arrived from Camp Pendleton, California, were briefed 
at Saigon before departing for MR 1 and MR 4 for air- 
borne spotting duty from USAF and VNAF aircraft. 
Major Glen Golden, a naval air observer and artillery 
officer, reported to the 3d ARVN Division at the 
Quang Tri Citadel with the assignment as Naval Gun- 
fire Officer for MR 1. ANGLICO's Lieutenant Colonel 
D'Wayne Gray regarded Golden as an expert practi- 
tioner of fire support coordination and a "rock of 
stability during a time when stability was hard to find." 
Available naval gunfire support now included 27 des- 
troyers, 2 light cruisers, and a heavy cruiser. 21 

Since the beginning of the offensive, General Giai, 
responding to the continuous enemy pressure, had 
persistently requested reinforcements from the corps 
commander. General Lam reluctantly committed the 
reinforcements which, in keeping with the principle 
of unity of command, were attached to the 3d ARVN 
Division. Now, the unwieldy command structure of 
the division was breaking down in its efforts to con- 
trol two ARVN infantry regiments, two VNMC 

"This exploit earned Lieutenant Thomas R. Norris, USNR, the 
Medal of Honor. 

Marine Aircraft Group 15 Command Chronology 
Commanders coordinate U.S. Marine Corps support 
to the South Vietnamese armed forces. Shown in dis- 
cussion are, from the left, BGen William H. Lanagan, 
Jr., MACV; MaJGen Frederick J. Kroesen, Jr., FRAC; 
LtGen William K.Jones, FMFPac; and MajGen Leslie 
E. Brown, 1st MAW. Face-to-face contact was critical 
to the effective prosecution of nationwide operations. 

brigades, four Ranger groups, and one armor brigade, 
as well as the Regional and Popular Forces in Quang 
Tri Province. 22 

The Ranger groups and Marine brigades, under the 
operational control of the 3d ARVN Division at Quang 
Tri City, continued to report to their parent organiza- 
tions for support. The reason for this was two-fold. 
Loyalty to their units played a part, of course, but, 
more importantly, at no time was the 3d Division 
Headquarters' communications system or logistic base 
expanded to provide adequately for the command or 
support of the attached units. Attached Rangers and 
Marines were forced to use their own command chan- 
nels in order to have their needs met. In retrospect, 
it was evident that the commanders of I Corps and 
the 3d ARVN Division could not properly accommo- 
date the rapid buildup of forces. As an example, a re- 
quest by General Khang, supported by General 
Kroesen, to assume control of his three brigades was 
dismissed as unnecessary by General Lam. 23 

The NVA Mount a Third Attack in MR 1 

The invading NVA, thwarted at Pedro, continued 
to push men and armor toward Quang Tri City, cross- 
ing the Cam Lo and Mieu Giang River barrier by the 



Photo courtesy of ICdr Francis C. Brown, USN 
Lessons learned from North Vietnamese artillery fire were put into effect by the 3d ARVN 
Division and MACV Advisory Team 155. South Vietnamese engineers constructed the 
division command bunker in the Quang Tri Citadel using sand bags and steel matting. 

Pictured are captured Communist tanks from the two armored regiments that supported 
the attacks in Quang Tri Province. Closest is a Chinese Type 59 and in the rear is a Soviet 
T-54. Both have been marked with "TQIC" by their captors, the Vietnamese Marine Corps. 

Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 



North Vietnamese 

Despite reliance on armor and motorized forces, the North Vietnamese Army 's infantry 
displayed a greater degree of crosscountry mobility than their opponents. An NVA in- 
fantry unit crosses a stream carrying individual and unit equipment with it. The soldier 
in the foreground is holding a pair of "Ho Chi Minh" sandals, the common footwear used. 

still standing Cam Lo Bridge. After more than two 
weeks of rain and dense cloud cover, the weather broke 
allowing a massive air effort to hit every suspected ene- 
my position and staging area. Increased numbers of 
B-52 Arc Light strikes as well as hundreds of tactical 
air strikes were flown each day in support of ARVN 
ground forces. 24 

On 14 April, FSB Bastogne, southwest of Hue City, 
fell to units of the 324B NVA Division, giving General 
Lam worries other than retaking lost ground. The 324B 
was now in position to attack Hue City, considered 
by the Vietnamese and MACV to be "the focal point 
of history and culture" for all of Vietnam. Critical 
fighting occurred between the 1st ARVN Division and 
the NVA for control of the Bastogne and Birmingham 
fire support bases. In spite of the concentrated allied 
air offensive, the enemy moved his units into position, 
ready for the attack. This put an end to General Lam's 
optimistic desire for a counteroffensive. 

On 16 April, FSB Jane was attacked by infantry and 
artillery, catching the 5th VNMC Battalion out of po- 
sition. The battalion's Bravo group was surrounded and 

had to fight its way to the base under the cover of air 
strikes controlled by Major Price from Jane. As had 
happened a week earlier, Captain Wells was with the 
cutoff unit, having a radio shot off his back, and col- 
lapsing from exhaustion. Major Price played an im- 
portant role in getting the survivors back to the fire 
support base, earning a Silver Star Medal for his ac- 
tions. After dark, Wells and the other serious casual- 
ties were evacuated by helicopter. Jane held, but the 
battalion had suffered and Colonel Chung, the 
brigade commander, relieved them the next day with 
the 7th VNMC Battalion. The enemy began to pres- 
sure the Marines of Brigade 369 on their hills as North 
Vietnamese gunners "blew the tops off the bases" with 
artillery fire. 

On 18 April at 1830, the 304th NVA Division struck 
all along the western front moving toward Quang Tri 
City. At the same time another NVA force of the 308th 
NVA Division moved south passing through Camp 
Carroll and Mai Loc towards Dong Ha. The 5th Ranger 
Group, with the 20th ARVN Tank Battalion in sup- 
port, confronted an enemy regiment southwest of 
Dong Ha along the Vinh Phuoc River. As the inten- 



sity of the battle increased, desperate ground forces, 
naval gunfire, along with diverted B-52 and tactical 
air strikes, stopped the NVA forces. VNMC Brigade 
258, with a troop of 20th Tank Battalion tanks, ex- 
perienced a strong enemy attack along its western 
front. The ARVN tanks, although they were continu- 
ously sniped at by enemy antitank teams, enjoyed ex- 
cellent results. Bravo group of the 1st VNMC Battalion 
took heavy casualties, but by midnight all was quiet 

As the enemy withdrew, the 6th VNMC Battalion 

captured a tank and a prisoner. The tank was practi- 
cally new and the prisoner had a fresh haircut, new 
uniform, good equipment, and an extra pair of shoes. 
It was believed that the enemy had placed a high pri- 
ority on first hitting Ai Tu combat base, but had shift- 
ed his emphasis to the attrition of South Vietnamese 
troop units. These fresh troops and supplies indicat- 
ed to Major Warren and Captain Wischmeyer, with 
the 6th VNMC Battalion, that the enemy felt the tac- 
tical situation was worth the investment of additional 
men and materiel. 25 


Exodus from Quang Tri 

Drive from the West— Confusion at Quang Trt 
Team D3 and General Giai Depart— VNMC Brigade 147 on Its Own 

Drive from the West 

While the ARVN defenders held the Dong Ha po- 
sitions, the concentration of the battle, both offen- 
sively and defensively, had shifted to the western 
approaches of the Ai Tu and Quang Tri areas. Thwart- 
ed at Dong Ha, the enemy continued to advance from 
the west along Highway 9 and had crossed over the 
river at Cam Lo. This maneuver rendered the defenders 
of Dong Ha vulnerable to enemy moves to sever QL-1 
between Dong Ha and Quang Tri City. 

On 22 April 1972, VNMC Brigade 147, which had 
been at Hue City for a period of rest and refurbish- 
ing, sent its 8th Battalion north to relieve the 3d 
VNMC Battalion at Ai Tu. The next day, the re- 
mainder of VNMC Brigade 147 relieved VNMC 
Brigade 258 there. Under 147's operational control 
were the 1st, 4th, and 8th VNMC Battalions and the 
2d VNMC Artillery Battalion. The brigade headquart- 
ers, the artillery battalion, and the reconnaissance 
company set up within the Ai Tu Combat Base with 
the 4th VNMC Battalion responsible for perimeter 
defense. The 1st VNMC Battalion was deployed ap- 
proximately 3,000 meters to the southwest between 
Ai Tu and FSB Pedro. The 8th VNMC Battalion was 
positioned one kilometer to the northwest of Ai Tu.' 

The 1st ARVN Armored Brigade was responsible for 
the area from QL-1 to five kilometers to the west, 
bounded by the Cam Lo River to the north and the Ai 
Tu Combat Base to the south. The brigade, in addi- 
tion to its organic units, controlled the 57th ARVN 
Regiment and the 4th and 5th Ranger Groups. The 2d 
ARVN Regiment had the area south of Ai Tu to the 
Thach Han River. The 1st Ranger Group was located 
south of the Thach Han River, VNMC Brigade 369 was 
still further south near Hai Lang, and the 3d ARVN 
Division's headquarters was at the Quang Tri Citadel. 2 

During the period 23 to 26 April, on orders from 
the 3d ARVN Division, VNMC Brigade 147 conduct- 
ed operations to the west searching for enemy units. 
Several times, the Marines spotted the enemy and 
called for artillery fire on him. The 8th VNMC Bat- 
talion spotted two tanks, and turned them away with 
artillery fire. 3 For the first time AT-3 Sagger wire- 
guided antitank missiles were used against M48 tank 

crews along Highway 9 west of Dong Ha. The ARVN 
tankers "seemed fascinated by their flight and would 
stare at them, rather than firing at the readily iden- 
tifiable firing positions or moving." 4 U.S. Army advi- 
sor Lieutenant Colonel Louis P. Wagner reported that 
the forward deployed M48s were particularly vulnera- 
ble to NVA teams armed with the Saggers and B-40 
rocket-propelled grenades. 5 

At 0630 on the morning of 27 April, the 304tb NVA 
Division launched an attack on the Ai Tu area from 
the southwest. The enemy, supported by 130mm ar- 
tillery fire, attacked VNMC Brigade 147 and the 1st 
ARVN Armored Brigade to the north of the Marines. 
In VNMC Brigade 147's area, the 1st VNMC Battalion, 
with Major Robert C. Cockell and Captain Lawrence 
H. Livingston, made the first contact. Although hit 
with more than 500 rounds of 82mm mortar fire wi- 
thin the first two hours, as well as artillery fire, the 
battalion stopped two ground attacks while suffering 
only minimal casualties. 6 During the late afternoon, 
Communist tank and infantry forces attacked both the 
1st and 8th VNMC Battalions. Artillery and the ARVN 
M48s, in direct support of the Marines, destroyed 15 
enemy tanks and drove back the infantry. By night- 
fall, the two outlying battalions were pulled in closer 
to the Ai Tu perimeter. Enemy 130mm fire, however, 
struck the base ammunition dump and destroyed most 
of the brigade's ammunition stockpile. 

At the 3d ARVN Division headquarters in Quang 
Tri, ANGLICO's HMl Thomas E. Williamson was 
manning an improvised dispensary that had been es- 
tablished with Navy Lieutenant John M. Lapoint, 
HMC Donovan R. Leavitt, HM2 Francis C. Brown, and 
HM3 James Riddle, from the Naval Advisory Unit in 
Da Nang. They had been able to provide treatment 
to ARVN wounded who were unable to be cared for 
at the swamped provincial military hospital. They had 
also assisted with injured Americans, including the 
"BAT-21" airman. As the situation deteriorated on 27 
April, Williamson heard that a seriously wounded 
American advisor with the 2d ARVN Regiment was 
cut off from air and road evacuation. "Doc" William- 
son loaded a medical bag and with a U.S. Army ser- 
geant, Roger Shoemaker, obtained an ARVN armored 




Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 
Although South Vietnam 's armor held out well against 
the North Vietnamese tanks, it proved vulnerable to 
the Soviet-built AT-3 Sagger wire-guided antitank mis- 
sile. The missile was manpacked and had a maximum 
range of 3,000 meters. At right is a SA-7 surface-to- 
air missile, another weapon encountered during 1972. 

personnel carrier to take them north of the Thach Han 
River through small arms and artillery fire. They were 
able to evacuate the seriously injured Lieutenant 
Colonel William C. Camper, saving his life. 7 

This pressure on Ai Tu from the west led indirectly 
to the collapse of the South Vietnamese lines at Dong 
Ha by 28 April 1972. Responding to a penetration 
from the west which threatened to cut logistical sup- 
port from Ai Tu Combat Base, the 1st ARVN Armored 
Brigade commander recalled the 20th ARVN Tank 
Battalion from its supporting positions in Dong Ha 
and along the Cua Viet River and sent the unit south- 

ward to deal with the threat. The 57 th ARVN Regi- 
ment, seeing the tanks pulling out, broke from its 
defensive positions and retreated in disorder toward 
Quang Tri City. That morning, a massive traffic jam 
quickly occurred at the northern gate of Ai Tu. The 
Marines refused to let the panic-stricken forces through 
the gate. Finally brigade commander, Colonel Bao, af- 
ter talking with the officers of the retreating units, let 
them through rather than have a milling mob des- 
troy the tactical integrity of the northern perimeter. 
That afternoon, Major Jim R. Joy sent all his 
advisors, except Major Emmett S. Huff and Captain 
Earl A. "Skip" Kruger, to Quang Tri City to establish 
a new command post to support a possible with- 
drawal. 8 

The 3d ARVN Division sent the 369th brigade's 7th 
VNMC Battalion north to reinforce Brigade 147, leav- 
ing FSB Jane unoccupied. Enroute to Quang Tri, the 
battalion made heavy contact with the enemy, and 
only two companies succeeded in breaking through 
to Quang Tri City, arriving at Ai Tu shortly before dark. 
After dark, 10 M4g tanks which had previously been 
sent to the south of the river to reopen QL-1, returned 
to Ai Tu led by the 20th ARVN Tank Battalion com- 
mander. The tanks were back in direct support of the 
Marines. 9 

At 0200, 29 April, the NVA launched a tank and 
infantry assault along the 2d ARVN Regiment's front 

Inside the Quang Tri Citadel at the MACV Advisory Team 155 compound adjacent to 
the 3d ARVN Division headquarters, the congested and crowded conditions did not lead 
to efficiency and provided the North Vietnamese artillery a lucrative target to hit. 

Photo courtesy of LCdr Francis C. Brown, USN 



Photo courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine 

Marine Corps medical support came from U.S. Navy 
personnel. HMl Thomas E Williamson, with ANGLI- 
CO's Sub Unit One, treated American and South Viet- 
namese wounded during a critical period while 
working from the Quang Tri Citadel. He is wearing 
a Marine Corps uniform with metal naval rank insig- 
nia; the name tags were a locally used modification. 

and the Thach Han River, securing the north end of 
the bridge leading into Quang Tri City. Forward air 
controllers operating under flare-light brought in 
strike after strike on the enemy's position. Three of 
the five enemy tanks were destroyed northwest of the 
bridge, but the enemy still controlled the north end. 
At first light, Brigade 147 assigned the two compa- 
nies of the 7th VNMC Battalion the mission of open- 
ing the bridge to Quang Tri City. Supported by the 
tanks from the 20th battalion, the Marines routed the 
NVA from the bridge's defensive bunkers, killing 12 
enemy soldiers and taking two prisoners. 

The 4th and 5th Ranger Groups, which were sup- 
posed to secure the re-established bridgehead, had 
crossed over to the Quang Tri City side of the bridge 
and kept going. Finally, Colonel Bao, unable to find 
any ARVN troops, and no longer confident of the di- 
vision's ability to keep it open, assigned the 7th Bat- 
talion units responsibility for holding the bridge. As 
this occurred, the defensive positions north of Ai Tu, 
which had held against the enemy for almost a month, 
continued to crumble. The ARVN infantry broke from 
their positions in an unauthorized withdrawal and 
flowed south in disorder across the Thach Han Bridge. 

Late in the afternoon of 29 April, NVA artillery again 
hit the Ai Tu ammunition dump. Fires and explosions 
raged among the remaining ammunition stocks until 
the morning of 30 April, reducing the Marines to less 
than 1,000 rounds of ammunition for their howitzers. 
It had become evident to Major joy, the senior brigade 
advisor, in view of the mass withdrawal from the north, 
that Ai Tu was no longer defensible. 

Early Sunday morning, 30 April, an ARVN soldier 
who had been captured at Camp Carroll by the NVA 
and had escaped made his way into the area of the 
8th VNMC Battalion. He reported that a regimental- 
sized enemy force supported by 20 tanks was in as- 
sembly areas southwest of Ai Tu. Up to this point, ar- 
tillery and tanks had stopped the attacks, but now, 
ammunition supply was critical and the 20th ARVN 
Tanks had been ordered south of the Quang Tri 
River to establish a defense around Quang Tri City. 
Naval gunfire could not be used against the staging 
area designated by the ARVN noncommissioned of- 
ficer as it was near maximum range and the friendly 
forces were on the gun-target line* The Marines called 
in tactical air with sorties striking so close to the front 
lines that the enemy troops fled into the defensive wire 
in an effort to escape the napalm and bombs. 

At first light on 30 April, Colonel Chung of VNMC 
Brigade 369 sent his 5th Battalion north up QL-1 to 
open the road to Quang Tri. The battalion was mount- 
ed on M48 tanks and Mll3 personnel carriers. Just 
south of the O tChe River Bridge, the battalion was hit 
by heavy automatic weapons and recoilless rifle fire. 
"The Marines continued to advance on foot, driving 
the enemy skirmishers back," recounted the battalion 
advisor, Major Donald L. Price. As the battalion com- 
mander and Major Price moved forward for a better 
view of the bridge, they heard the sound of an NVA 
tank engine starting up on the north bank of the river. 
With the possibility of a tank ambush, Major Price 
began what he called a "duel between fotward ob- 

Major Price, on the south side of the O Khe, called 
for naval gunfire, concentrating on the vicinity of the 
tank engine noise. Meanwhile, the NVA on the north 
side of the river called in 122mm and 130mm artillery 
fire, apparently on the roadway to the south. This duel 

*A "gun-target line" is drawn between the weapon and the tar- 
get and is used in fire control to make corrections to impacting 
rounds. The possibility of error is greatest along the axis of this line 
at extreme range, in some cases tendering supporting fire imprac- 
tical due to rhe risk of hitting friendly forces. 



went on for more than an hour until Major Price was 
able to prevail with a series of accurate airstrikes that 
resulted in secondary fires and explosions in the ene- 
my position. The 5th Battalion then remounted the 
armored vehicles and attacked across the bridge with 
the M48s in the lead, firing rapidly into suspected am- 
bush locations along the road. 

Another bottleneck was reached between the bridge 
and Hai Lang, where the NVA had installed them- 
selves in former ARVN outposts alongside the high- 
way. Major Price called in air support, including that 
of an AC-130 gunship, "to blow the target away." As 
the 20mm Gatling guns and the 105mm howitzer of 
the Spectre opened up, tactical aircraft arrived on sta- 
tion and followed the AC-130 attack with devastating 
accuracy on the now-smoking target. Hit by a lethal 
combination of MK82 high-explosive bombs and 
napalm fire bombs, surviving NVA infantry attempt- 
ed to escape in all directions, "most being shot down 
by 5 th Battalion Marines." With the destruction of this 
enemy force, down QL-1 "came an exodus of refugees 
fleeing south." Despite this, the battalion's prospects 
of linking up with units in Quang Tri City faded. They 
were now overextended, low on ammunition, and un- 
able to move up the road into the flow of refugees. 
Colonel Chung ordered the battalion back to the 
O Khe Bridge and to hold it open for a breakout of 
units from the north. 10 

Confusion at Quang Tri 

Even heavy air attacks could not save the untena- 
ble salient north of the Thach Han River. At noon on 
30 April the 3d ARVN Division's commander, 
Brigadier General Giai, made the decision to with- 
draw the Marines from Ai Tu Combat Base and to 
bring VNMC Brigade 147 to Quang Tri City to pro- 
vide a defensive force and to concentrate on securing 
his lines of communication to the south. Lacking se- 
cure communications to all his subordinate com- 
mands, General -Giai called all his unit commanders 
to a meeting at the Citadel. He explained his ration- 
ale for a relocation south of the Thach Han River: the 
expectation of a renewed enemy offensive; shortages 
of fuel and ammunition; concern for artillery pieces 
being captured; the real possibility of being cut off 
by enemy action; and constant enemy fire at helicop- 
ter flights going into Quang Tri and Ai Tu. Under this 
closely held plan, the security of Quang Tri City would 
be maintained by VNMC Brigade 147, the only tacti- 
cal unit remaining in any condition to hold the north- 
ern approach to Quang Tri City. General Giai's senior 
American advisor, Colonel Metcalf, felt "It would be 

our last-ditch defense" against the attacking 304th 
NVA Division. 11 The remaining ARVN and Ranger 
forces would form a defensive line on the south bank 
of the Thach Han. The armor and armored cavalry 
would be committed to open the highway to the south 
toward Hue. 12 

Colonel Bao, along with Major Joy, attended the 
meeting at the Quang Tri Citadel. When they received 
the order to pull back, Bao and Joy tried to telephone 
Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the deputy 
brigade commander, who was at Ai Tu with Major 
Huff, and inform him of the decision. Secure voice 
communications could not be established, so the 
deputy commander was ordered to report to Quang 
Tri for a briefing. While awaiting his arrival, Colonel 
Bao and Major Joy conducted a reconnaissance of the 

Upon the arrival of Phuc, Bao briefed him on the 
division withdrawal plan. Although Joy had attempted 
to persuade the brigade commander to return to Ai 
Tu personally to oversee the withdrawal, Bao felt he 
could exercise better control from his new command 
post in the position formerly occupied by MACV Ad- 
visory Team 19, the U.S. Army advisory team for 
Quang Tri Province. 13 While the brigade deputy was 
enroute back to Ai Tu, 3d ARVN Division received 
intelligence that indicated the NVA planned a 
division-sized attack on Qiiang Tri City that night and 
ordered Ai Tu to commence the evacuation immedi- 
ately. The plan had already been explained to the 
subordinate commanders north of the river and be- 
gan smoothly as the Marine brigade headquarters and 
its artillery battalion departed first. The 1st VNMC 
Battalion comprised the main body, followed by the 
8th VNMC Battalion in trace, covering the western 
flank. The 4th VNMC Battalion closed the column 
as the rear guard. 

Prior to leaving, Major Huff and Captain Earl A. 
Kruger destroyed the secure voice radio equipment and 
other classified material. The American advisors, hav- 
ing finished their destruction duties, joined the 4th 
VNMC Battalion just as it was clearing the south- 
eastern perimeter of the Ai Tu Combat Base. Captain 
Kruger, later awarded the Silver Star Medal for his ac- 
tions, effectively directed and controlled tactical air 
strikes, and artillery and naval gunfire missions, slow- 
ing the pursuing NVA and permitting the brigade's 
orderly and covered withdrawal. 

As VNMC Brigade 147 moved south from Ai Tu, 
Major Huff requested fire missions from ANGLICO's 
Major Glen Golden, who, in turn, relayed the requests 



Photo courtesy of IstSgt Jimmy D. Evans, USA (Ret) 
Armored units, forced to leave the highway because of enemy action, and refugees had 
to brave the demands of crosscountry travel. At this fording place east of National High- 
way 1, 20th ARVN Tank Battalion vehicles are lost as they bog down in a river bed. 

to the ships. At that time there were 16 naval gunfire 
ships responding to Golden's requests. These ships in- 
cluded the 8-inch cruiser USS Newport News 
(CA-148), three 6-inch cruisers, and 12 5-inch destroy- 
ers. Golden attempted to keep gunfire between the 
brigade and the NVA, and to provide some form of 
continuing fire support. In the existing situation, he 
was concerned that he might have to walk out of 
Quang Tri City on a pair of arthritic knees. 14 

The withdrawal was going as planned until the Ma- 
rine column, approaching Quang Tri City, discovered 
that ARVN engineers had destroyed both bridges 
across the Thach Han River. The Marines tried to tow 
their artillery across a ford, but the swift current and 
soft bottom frustrated their efforts, forcing them to 
destroy 18 howitzers and 22 vehicles. Fortunately, 16 
of the 18 remaining tanks of the 20th ARVN Tank Bat- 
talion were able to ford the river one kilometer north 
of the bridges. Two tanks were lost, one to a mine and 
the other to recoilless rifle fire. Marine infantry swam 
and waded the river at the bridge site and moved 
directly into their defensive positions. While wading 

the river, Captain Kruger narrowly escaped drowning 
as a Vietnamese Marine, losing his footing, panicked 
and grabbed Kruger's arm. Twice the advisor went un- 
der, but he maintained his hold on the radio floating 
on an air mattress. Major Huff pushed the air mat- 
tress toward Kruger, who then pulled himself to 
safety. 1 5 

By dark, the brigade had occupied its planned 
defensive positions in Quang Tri City: The 1st VNMC 
Battalion had an area west of the city; the 4th VNMC 
Battalion guarded the eastern and southern ap- 
proaches; and the 8th VNMC Battalion defended the 
north. The headquarters and the remaining units oc- 
cupied a location inside the Citadel compound. 16 

Team 155 and General Giai Depart 

The 3d ARVN Division command post, within the 
Citadel, was having a difficult time coordinating the 
maneuver elements of the division. Command integri- 
ty had completely dissolved. Infantry units along the 
river, seeing the tanks continuing to move south, aban- 
doned their positions. All types of vehicles began to 



David Burnett Contact Press Images 
The AWN went south to dig in and fight again. This M48 pulls out with its turret point- 
ed north towards the enemy. On board are wounded and other escaping soldiers. 

run out of fuel and were abandoned. Major Golden, 
the MR 1 naval gunfire officer, who had arrived at the 
3d ARVN Division command post a week earlier, 
found little cohesion between the ARVN staff and its 
U.S. Army counterparts. According to Golden, two 
bunkers inside the Citadel served as the control center 
of the division. One bunker housed the combat oper- 
ations center (COC) of the ARVN division; the other, 
50 yards away, contained the command center of 
MACV Team 155. The only interchange that existed 
was at the highest level berween Brigadier General Giai 
and Colonel Metcalf. Other counterparts did not talk 
to each other and the 27 maneuver battalions report- 
ed, if they reported at all, as individual units. 

On his own initiative, Golden installed a direct tel- 
ephone line between the ARVN artillery officer in the 
ARVN combat operations center bunker and himself 
in the advisor bunker. As he received fire requests from 
Marine advisors withdrawing with their units, or from 
ANGLICO aerial observers flying in U.S. Air Force 

OV-lOs, he was able to fire several massed time-on- 
targets with ARVN artillery and American naval gun- 
fire. There was no formal fire planning, but air, ar- 
tillery, and naval gunfire managed to keep pressure 
on the enemy. Golden received his first and only 
guidance from Colonel Metcalf, who pointed to a a 
map and said, "everything outside this circle around 
the Citadel is a free fire zone." Although Golden re- 
quested thousands of naval gunfire rounds in support 
of the withdrawal, he later stated "the only thing that 
saved the entire situation, the only thing that slowed 
the NVA down, was American tactical air ... . We 
had so much of it." 17 

The enemy, however, had routed the South Viet- 
namese in the north and wanted to maintain pressure 
on the city. On 1 May, General Giai decided that fur- 
ther defense of Quang Tri City would be fruitless, and 
to protect "the lives of all of you," he decided to pull 
all units back to a defensive line at My Chanh. 18 In- 
telligence reports indicated that the city would be hit 



by a 10,000-round artillery attack beginning at 1700. 
At 1215, the 3d ARVN Division's chief of staff walked 
into Advisory Team 155's bunket and, using Ameri- 
can radio circuits, called all the subordinate com- 
manders and their advisors and said "General Giai has 
released all commanders to fight their way to the My 
Chanh River!" This came as a complete surprise to all 
Americans in the tactical operations center. Within 
30 minutes, the I Corps commander, Lieutenant 
General Lam, or a deputy, issued a counterorder to 
"stand and die." This directive apparently was from 
Saigon as Lam was reporting directly to President 
Thieu. 18 

At this point, General Giai's subordinates refused 
to obey and said he could withdraw with them or be 
left at the Citadel, "a threat they proceeded to carry 
out." 20 All across the northern salient, commanders 
had already begun their withdrawal and a mass exo- 
dus had begun. Unit commanders did not ac- 
knowledge the change in orders or openly refused to 
deviate from the original command. Within hours the 
entire area was in chaos and confusion reigned. 21 

The end comes for the Americans with the 3d ARVN 
Division at Quang Tri- An Air Force noncommissioned 
officer burns classified documents to prevent them 
from falling into enemy hands at the Citadel Other 
equipment and material was left behind during the 
rapid withdrawal that followed shortly afterwards. 

Photo courtesy of LCdr Francis C. Brown, USN 

No orderly withdrawal plan was promulgated or 
even suggested. It was every battalion for itself. Any 
identifiable sense of unity crumbled. The confusion 
of orders, combined with a month of constant bom- 
bardment and harrowing combat, destroyed the last 
traces of cohesion among the ARVN troops and advi- 
sors. A frightened mob poured out as a "tidal wave 
onto Highway 1" and fled southward toward Hue. 
Only Marine Brigade 147 remained under control. 
Shortly afterwards, Colonel Metcalf called brigade 
headquarters via secure radio and said, "The ARVN 
are pulling out; advisors may stay with theit units or 
join me" for evacuation. Major Joy responded that the 
Brigade 147 advisors would remain with their units. 22 

Brigade 147 withdrew from Quang Tri, destroying 
excess equipment in the process. This orderly destruc- 
tion included large amounts of communications gear 
left by advisory teams which previously occupied the 
position. A little after 1300, the brigade headquart- 
ers and artillery battalion headquarters moved to a 
point southwest of the Citadel, where they expected 
to be joined by the 3d ARVN Division commander 
and staff, and then to push on to the south to link 
up with VNMC Brigade 369 at My Chanh. 23 In a let- 
ter home, a U.S. Atmy captain who was serving as an 
advisor with the ARVN, praised VNMC Brigade 147 
for its coolness: 

As bad as I hate to say it, thank God for the Marines. 
The ARVN rejrulars, rangers, and militia ran, and I do mean 
ran, away from the NVA. However, one brigade of Marines 
not only stood and fought but damned if they didn't launch 
a counterattack while everyone else ran away, Without doubt 
they saved us . . . . 2( 

General Giai had loaded his remaining staff officers 
on three armored personnel carriers and had roared 
out of the Citadel in an attempt to break out along 
with his tetteating men. The departing M113's left be- 
hind about 80 Americans and Vietnamese of the ad- 
visory compound. Colonel Metcalf called General 
Kroesen for rescue helicopters in accordance with pre- 
arranged plans with FRAC and said, "Now is the 
time." 25 

General Giai and his staff, unable to break through 
the encircling enemy and link up with VNMC Brigade 
147, came roaring back into the Citadel, adding at 
least 40 mote people to be evacuated by helicopter. 
By 1500 the helicopters had not atrived. Major Golden 
had lost radio contact with VNMC Brigade 147 as it 
moved out of range. At this time, as he was destroy- 
ing all radio equipment and weapons, the telephone 
rang: the commercial telephone circuit to Hue con- 



North Vietnamese Army Photo 
As the forward defenses crumbled, the Communists 
moved in for the final assault. "Nguyen Thanh Binh, 
a valiant and resourceful scout" leads his small unit 
into Quang Tri City in this North Vietnamese picture. 
Shown is the relatively small amount of personal com- 
bat equipment carried by the NVA infantryman. 

tinued to function* In spite of the urgency of the mo- 
ment, with flames leaping around the burning war 
material, Golden answered the call in the precise mili- 
tary manner that professionals use in telephone con- 
versation. All at once it felt good to do something 
normal. The feeling, however, did not last long, for 
the voice on the other end, the naval gunfire officer 
at Hue, casually asked how everything was going up 
there. Infuriated by the "social" call, Golden ripped 
the telephone from the wall and hurled it into the fire. 

At 1635, U.S. Air Force search and rescue helicopters 
arrived to remove the 118 persons inside the Citadel. 
U.S. Army gunships escorted the helicopters and U.S. 
Marine and Air Force fighters provided air cover. The 
first helicopter landed and quickly loaded 40 people, 

*One item of equipment lost at this rime was the navaJ gunfire 
beacon, a transponder that allowed the naval gunfire ships to com- 
pute accurate firing data, especially important considering the lack 
of landmarks along the coast of MR 1. 

including General Giai. The second helicopter land- 
ed in trace, and after taking on about 40 more peo- 
ple, flew away. Sixteen Americans remained in the 
Citadel in addition to the remaining 3d ARVN Divi- 
sion staff. After a seemingly interminable wait, a third 
HH-53 came in low and settled into the landing zone. 
Hurriedly, the remaining survivors clambered on 
board. Colonel Metcalf and Major Golden were the 
last Americans on the ground at the Citadel. As the 
last helicopter lifted off, a lone enemy rifleman en- 
tered the compound and fired several rapid shots at 
the aircraft. The hazardous rescue mission had been 
completed with no time to spare. 26 

VNMC Brigade 147 on Its Own 

To the south, Brigade 147 had been waiting for Giai 
and his staff to arrive for the move to the My Chanh 
River. Major Joy had been talking with Colonel Met- 
calf earlier in the afternoon to coordinate the effort. 
After being unable to break through and join the 
brigade, Metcalf radioed Joy that the linkup could not 
be made and that the advisors with the brigade should 
resort to their own devices. In what had to be taken 
as a gesture, Metcalf reiterated that the Marine advi- 
sors, who included Majors Huff, CharlesJ. Goode, and 
Thomas E. Gnibus, and Captains Kruger and Mar- 
shall R. Wells, could rejoin him for the helicopter lift- 
out. Major Joy declined the invitation, saying the ad- 
visors would remain with their units. The departing 
Team 133 senior advisor replied, "Good luck." Major 
Joy saw the "Jolly Green Giant" helicopters going into 
the Citadel. He then realized that there was only ene- 
my to the north. 

Brigade 147 proceeded east for approximately 2,000 
meters and then turned south. After making several 
difficult stream crossings, the column arrived at the 
Hai Lang area, 10 kilometers south of Quang Tri City. 
The enemy had engaged the fleeing ARVN forces just 
west of the Hai Lang District headquarters, halting 
all movement to the south. An NVA corporal with a 
mortar unit reported, "The people were moving on 
bicycles, motorbikes, and buses .... No one was able 
to escape." 27 The NVA attack on this road, by artillery 
and infantry weapons, earned Highway 1 the title 
"Highway of Horror" for the estimated 2,000 civilian 
and military dead left along a three-quarters-of-a-mile 
stretch. "A solid wall of military and civilian rolling 
stock of every description, bumper-to-bumper and 
three vehicles abreast," remained on the road. Personal 
effects, individual equipment, and bodies were piled 
in the vehicles and lay strewn alongside, and to the 



Government of Vietnam Photo 
0#c<? again civilian and military refugees fled from the fighting. These civilians, walking 
along National Highway 1 south of Quang Tri City near Hai Lang, blocked the road south. 

east, where individuals had attempted to flee to 
safety. 28 

Colonel Bao, the Brigade 147 commander, after a 
long and heated discussion with his battalion com- 
manders, decided to establish a tight perimeter for the 
night and resume the match the next day. In the 
course of the conference it became clear that all units 
in the brigade were still well organized and combat 
effective. Ten M48s, however, had been lost in the vi- 
cinity of the Nhung River. Four were destroyed by ene- 
my recoilless rifle fire, while six had been lost trying 
to ford rivers. Only six tanks remained of the 42 that 
had arrived at Dong Ha on Easter Sunday. Major Huff, 
assisting the brigade operations officer, prepared the 
night defensive fires and requested that a forward air 
controller, one of whom had been in contact with the 
column since it had departed Quang Tri City, remain 
on station throughout the night. An AC-130 gunship 
also was made immediately available by I DASC 
should any contact be made during the night. Major 
Joy, on VNMC Brigade 369's tactical net, contacted 
Major Robert F. Sheridan, that brigade's senior advi- 
sor. Major Sheridan had followed his fellow advisors' 
radio traffic closely in the days preceding the mass ex- 
odus. Sheridan gave Joy a thorough briefing on the 
situation and the area into which VNMC Brigade 147 
was moving. 

One by one the M48 tanks of the 20th ARVN Tank 
Battalion were lost in the defense of Quang Tri 
Province. This one was destroyed by Communist an- 
titank missiles on Highway 1, south of Quang Tri City. 

Photo courtesy of IstSgt Jimmy D. Evans, USA (Ret) 




'North Vietnamese Army Photo 
The Communists attempted to cut the withdrawal 
mute from Quang Tri City by fire and maneuver. 
North' Vietnamese forward observers called artillery fire 
in on civilian and military highway traffic to close this 
link to the failing id ARVN Division and its units. 

Major Sheridan had advised Colonel Chung to keep 
Brigade 369 moving, including his 105mm howitzers. 
The constant shifting of positions, never spending two 
nights on the same piece of terrain, served to keep the 
NVA artillery and infantry off balance. Captain Ge- 
orge Philip, with the artillery battalion, felt the brigade 
was the "bull's eye" for the NVA artillery. "A favorite 
target was the VNMC 105mm batteries which were 
woefully outranged and usually easily observed" by the 
NVA from their elevated positions to the west. The 
Marine batteries had to displace four to five times a 
day to survive, saved by the "extremely slow" way in 
which the NVA observers tried to get a bracket. 29 It 
was still a helpless and frustrating experience. Recalled 
Major Andrew D. DeBona, "We were continually on 
the move, rarely staying over one day in the same spot." 
He did note that the digging of new fighting posi- 
tions did not suffer, as "nothing enhances your abili- 
ty to dig like incoming." 30 

Without a battalion at FSB Jane, the brigade had 
been unsuccessful in its attempts to keep open the 
road between Quang Tri and Hue, but it had inflict- 
ed exceptionally heavy losses on the enemy in close 

combat. 31 It was estimated that at least a reinforced 
NVA regiment now held QL-1 at Hai Lang, but that 
a horde of intermingled civilian and ARVN stragglers 
prevented maneuver on the highway. 

Brigade 36°' s efforts were now directed at keeping 
the bridges over the O Khe and My Chanh open to 
the withdrawing troops and civilians. With Quang Tri 
City lost, Colonel Pham Van Chung decided that 
VNMC Brigade 369 would be hit by the NVA the next 
day at first light. In planning for the defense of the 
O Khe and My Chanh River lines, recalled Sheridan, 
"He ordered antitank mines to be emplaced immedi- 
ately along Highway 1, that naval gunfire and artillery 
be registered," and that battalion blocking positions 
be established along the highway. 32 

At dawn on 2 May, VNMC Brigade 369's "whole 
world came apart" as it was subjected throughout its 
area to massive artillery fire. Major Sheridan stated that 
"we all just got deeper in our holes and called NGF 
on the suspected routes of advance." The brigade's two 
forward battalions, advised by Major Donald L. Price 
and Major James D. Beans, were hit by tanks and in- 
fantry and had to fight their way to the My Chanh 
River, a mile or so to the south, "destroying NVA 
troops along the way." At the My Chanh River, the 
brigade dug in astride QL-1 to hold the bridges at My 
Chanh. As Sheridan watched, thousands of civilian 
refugees, interspersed with troops, passed over the 
bridges. 33 Major Price recalled that there was great con- 
cern that NVA armor would pursue VNMC Brigade 
147. This concern was focused on the large highway 
bridge, adjacent to the long-destroyed railway bridge, 
across the My Chanh River. 

Communist tanks attempting to pursue the ARVN 
south of the Khe River bridge, were met by the S>th 
VNMC Battalion. The lead tank was hit by antitank 
rockets and the following vehicle piled tn behind. 

Phoco courtesy of IstSgt Jimmy D. Evans, USA (Ret) 



David Burnett Contact Press Images 
Incoming artillery and antitank rounds took a toll from those within armored vehicles. 
These AWN crewmen drop inside their personnel carrier to escape from enemy fire. The 
interior of the vehicle is crowded with engineer material and personal possessions. 

Further to the north, early on the morning of 2 May, 
after an uneventful night, VNMC Brigade 147 pre- 
pared to move out as planned. At 0500, tank noises 
were reported to the west, near the 1st VNMC Battal- 
ion's area. Brigade headquarters placed the entire 
perimeter on 100-percent alert. By 0600, no tanks had 
appeared from the west, but the 8th VNMC Battal- 
ion reported tank rumblings due south, in the direc- 
tion trie brigade was planning to cross the O Khe River. 
At 0715, units began receiving small arms fire from 
the northwest, followed by a heavy volume of small 
arms fire from the vicinity of Hai Lang to the east. 
The brigade and its remaining 20th ARVN Tank Bat- 
talion armor, with assorted ARVN and civilian strag- 
glers interspersed, was surrounded. 

Simultaneously, enemy armor supported by infan- 
try and 57mm and 75mm recoilless rifle fire came from 
the north, west, and east. The ARVN tank and APC 
drivers panicked and fled in their vehicles to avoid ene- 
my contact, breaking without returning a single shot. 
None of the remaining M48 tanks reached the My 
Chanh River; all were believed to have become casual- 
ties of the terrain. With the bolting of the armored 
task force, effective command and control of VNMC 
Brigade 147 evaporated as anxiety gave way to hysteria. 

Majors Joy and Huff jumped off the command APC 

as it broke from the column. Joy yelled for the other 
advisors, riding on the following vehicle, to jump also. 
An American civilian evacuee, Jerry Dunn, a commu- 
nications technician from the provincial CORDS ad- 
visory team, joined the six Marines. Two U.S. Army 
advisors remained on the APC and were swallowed up 
in the dust and confusion. The Marine advisors, mov- 
ing at the end of the column, continued to call air 
strikes on the Hai Lang area where the attack had origi- 
nated. It was soon apparent that the advisors were 
hopelessly separated from their counterparts, who had 
remained on the APCs. While on the move, Major Joy 
told Major Huff to contact the forward air controller 
flying overhead and to request an emergency helicop- 
ter evacuation. The air controller acknowledged the 
request and then reported that there were enemy tanks 
moving toward the advisors from the east and south. 
It appeared that in less than 10 minutes the NVA tanks 
would be on top of them. 

At 0945, the advisors heard a helicopter overhead. 
Major Huff gave it a bearing and, as the pilot started 
a downward spiral, Major Joy popped a smoke grenade 
and stood up to guide the helicopter into the land- 
ing zone. The helicopter landed in a deluge of artillery, 
mortar, small arms, and recoilless rifle fire. The ins- 
tant before touchdown, the aircraft commander, Cap- 



tain Stanley A. Dougherty, USA, shifted his approach 
90 degrees, thus turning the port side toward the 
senior advisor, but denying the remaining members 
of the group easy access to the hatch. 

Under Fire from all sides, the advisors scrambled by 
panicked ARVN stragglers who were grabbing onto 
the helicopter. The helicopter unexpectedly lifted off 
with Major Huff astraddle one of the skids, holding 
on to Captain Kruger with one hand and onto the 
aircraft with the other. At about 50 feet altitude, the 
pilot, seeing Kruger dangling below his aircraft, set 
back down in a hail of fire, permitting the two Ma- 
tines to board. 

With rotors turning furiously, the pilot attempted 
to take off once more. Finally, after kicking all but 
four ARVN soldiers from the skids, the aircraft gained 
some altitude, only to go into a 45 -degree plummet 
toward the earth. At tree-top level, the now-smoking 
helicopter pulled out of the steep dive and picked up 
speed. As they skimmed south over the My Chanh 
River, the Marines discovered that they had been res- 
cued by FRAC's Brigadier General Thomas W. Bowen, 
Jr., USA. Bowen, who had been flying in the area, had 
otdered his pilot to make the courageous rescue at- 
tempt. Six Marines, one civilian, and four ARVN sold- 
iers had literally been plucked from imminent capture 
or death. 34 

After a desperate march south, most of VNMC 
Brigade 147 eventually straggled into the lines of 
VNMC Brigade 369- Once across the My Chanh River, 
VNMC Brigade 147 reassembled at the Hue Citadel 
to regroup once more. 35 As the day ended, the flood 
of tefugees across the bridges became a trickle and on- 
coming units were directed to cross along the coast 
to the east. 

On orders from Colonel Chung, Major Price des- 
troyed the Mv Chanh River Bridge. A squad of Ma- 

rine engineers attempted to render the bridge 
impassable. With only a limited amount of explosives, 
they set off a charge under the center span, but suc- 
ceeded only in destroying a few wooden cross mem- 
bers and dislodging others. Realizing that this easily 
could be repaired by the enemy. Major Price had the 
engineers siphon fuel ftom the tanks of their vehicles. 
Forming a "bucket brigade" with the engineers, us- 
ing their helmets to hold the fuel, they soaked the 
wooden road bed and supports in gasoline and diesel 
fuel. Major Price set the bridge on fire with signal 
flares. The smoke from the fire lasted for days as a bea- 
con along QL-1 for attack aircraft. Commented 
Sheridan, "although not as spectacular as our friend 
John Ripley's Dong Ha Bridge, it nevertheless had the 
same result." Chung's VNMC Brigade 369 held the 
key terrain and he stated "No Communist will ctoss 
the rivet and live." Prisoners captured that day con- 
fessed to being surprised by the resistance they met; 
they had been told the road to Hue City was open.* 36 
VNMC Brigade 369 had access to the vast array of 
American firepower from the air and at sea. That even- 
ing Shetidan tried to coordinate fire missions on the 
visible NVA tanks and infantry north of the My Chanh 
River, and was frustrated by an air controller who 
would not clear air strikes because the FAC could not 
see the targets. Chung did not care, so long as the air 
support continued north of the river. As Sheridan 
called Lieutenant Colonel Turley at the Marine divi- 
sion command post for help in resolving the impasse, 
he recalled, "I was knocked to the ground and bounced 
around for what seemed to be an eternity." Six B-52s 
dropped their bomb loads just on the other side of 
the river. When the concussions ended, a disheveled 
Colonel Chung got out of his collapsed bunker and 
said with a smile, "That was very good. Do it again." 37 

*Marine Division casualties through May were 764 killed, 1,595 
wounded, and 285 missing. 



The Defense of Hue City 

Holding the My Chanh Line — Fleet Marine Force Support— Truong Takes Charge 
The Vietnamese Marine Division— The Marines Attack— The North Vietnamese React 
Operation Song Than 6-72 — In the Balance 

Holding the My Chanh Line 
South Vietnam reeled from the setbacks of the past 
month. By 2 May 1972, the entire province of Quang 
Tri, including Quang Tri City, had fallen to the NVA. 
Elsewhere in MR 1, the invaders threatened Hue by 
occupying Fire Support Base Bastogne. The populace 
of Hue was in a "near state of panic." 1 In MR 3, just 
northwest of Saigon, NVA tanks rolled into An Loc 
and were held there only by bitter fighting on the part 
of South Vietnamese forces. The South Vietnamese 
and American governments had to react to a critical 
situation and, within less than a week after Nui Ba 
Ho had fallen, the Americans responded with a rapid 
build-up of air power within South Vietnam and with 
forces offshore. ARVN unit equipment losses were 
staggering, but American trucks, tanks, howitzers, air- 
craft, and additional advisors began arriving at Da 
Nang. 2 

Fleet Marine Force Support 
In response to General Creighton W. Abram's desire 
for direct American support, CinCPac and the Seventh 
Fleet deployed elements of III Marine Amphibious 
Force (III MAF) into the combat area. Marine Aircraft 
Group (MAG) 15, with two fixed-wing squadrons, 
operated from Da Nang in defense of Hue. The 9th 
Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB), as the landing 
forces component of the Seventh Fleet, had also 
responded rapidly to the invasion. Elements of the 
fleet's amphibious forces were in the Gulf of Tonkin. 3 
The initial tasks of the fleet's amphibious forces had 
been to provide MACV security and emergency evacu- 
ation for U.S. forces should the need arise. By the time 
MACV and the South Vietnamese recognized the ex- 
tent of the enemy invasion, the U.S. had four amphibi- 
ous ready groups off Vietnam, totaling 16 ships under 
the command of Rear Admiral Walter D. Gaddis in 
the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). 

After the loss of Quang Tri City, ANGLlCO's Sub 
Unit One regrouped its shore fire control parties in 
MR 1 and established new arrangements for air ob- 
servation teams at Phu Bai, Da Nang, and Chu Lai. 
By now, liaison/spot teams were deployed in three of 
the South Vietnamese military regions. On 2 May, 
Lieutenant Colonel D'Wayne Gray, of ANGLICO, sent 

a message to FMFPac requesting additional naval gun- 
fire officers, air observers, and enlisted communica- 
tors. Within 48 hours, more than 200 Marines had 
reported to MACV Headquarters in Saigon. These spe- 
cially trained Marines were from FMFPac units in 
California, Okinawa, Hawaii, and Japan. Lieutenant 
Colonel Gray formed the incoming personnel into 
naval gunfire spot teams and deployed them with the 
ARVN Airborne and Marine Divisions. For Gray, this 
response to a request for help was "heartwarming." 4 
Lieutenant Colonel Gray had serious misgivings, 
however, about the handling of supporting arms dur- 
ing the previous month in MR 1 after receiving reports 
and listening to the needs of the commanders of the 
1st ARVN Division and the Vietnamese Marine Divi- 
sion* He informed Brigadier General William H. 
Lanagan, with MACVJ-3, that the defense of Hue re- 
quired "an effective commander for I Corps," who 
could command the respect of his division com- 
manders. Moreover, the Americans needed to replace 
the South Vietnamese artillery and tank losses. He 
strongly argued that priority of American firepower 
must be given to the defense of Hue. Gray believed 
that effective targeting and coordination centers for 
the total fire support effort needed to be established 
and this "will require strong American action; the 
Vietnamese do not know how to do it." This could 
happen only if General Abrams personally intervened 
at once with the senior U.S. Army advisor and the Air 
Force commander. General Lanagan forwarded these 
concerns to the MACV chief of staff, stating that the 
crux of the problem was obvious, "the almost total 
disconnect between the air war and the ground war 
. . . . s The Americans had to get their houses in order 
before they could hope to help the Vietnamese.** 

*Gray had maintained a continuing relationship with the Viet- 
namese Marines from a previous advisory tour and from Vietnamese 
classmates in Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia. 

**In 1975 the Center for Naval Analyses studied this period, con- 
cluding that the presence of moderately sophisticated antiaircrafr 
weapons hampered U.S. abilities to provide close and direct air sup- 
port, adverse weather during April 1972 severely degraded what close 
air support was available, naval gunfire played a vital role in com- 
pensating for air support, and trained and experienced fire sup- 
port personnel were essential to coordinate these supporting arms 
(CNA, Hue&QuangTri, pp. 1-2.) 






Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800720 
Taking command during the battle was LtGen Ngo 
Quang Truong, shown here in front of the I Corps for- 
ward headquarters at Hue. He wears the ARVN uni- 
form with both Vietnamese and American senior 
parachute insignia from tours with airborne forces. 

Truong Takes Charge 

Abrupt changes in the MR 1 and FRAC command 
structures strengthened the organizational unity of the 
South Vietnamese forces. On 4 May, the South Viet- 
namese Joint General Staff replaced General Lam with 
Lieutenant General Ngo Quang Truong. Truong 
moved his main command post to the Hue Citadel, 
a move that reflected a change in purpose and focus 
for operations in MR 1* His immediate task was to 
stabilize his forces and to make effective use of availa- 
ble American support through FRAC. Major General 
Frederick J. Kroesen, the FRAC commander, recalled 
that General Truong's first actions and concerns were 
"consolidation of the defense of Hue." He had to re- 
store the ARVN command structure and organize a 
reliable logistics system for his front-line units. 8 
Truong's available forces included the Marine and 
ARVN Airborne divisions responsible for the north- 
ern and northwestern areas of Thua Thien Province, 
the 1st ARVN Division south and southwest of Hue 

•Previously, General Lam operated from both Hue and Da Nang 

City, and the 2d ARVN Division in MR l's southern 

On the same date, command changes also affected 
the Vietnamese Marine Corps. While visiting Marine 
division headquarters at Hue, President Nguyen Van 
Thieu announced that the Marine Commandant, 
Lieutenant General Le Nguyen Khang, had been 
promoted to Chairman of the Joint General Staff for 
Operations. The President named General Khang's 
deputy, Colonel Bui The Lan, as interim VNMC Com- 
mandant. Thieu's order of the day was that the My 
Chanh Line would hold; there would be no further 
withdrawals. 7 

The Vietnamese Marine Division 
For the first time since the Spring Offensive had be- 
gun, the VNMC Division had its own tactical area of 
responsibility.** Its battle line extended from the Gulf 
of Tonkin, westward across QL-1, and on into the 
foothills of the Annamite Cordillera. The division for- 
ward command post moved from Hue City to the vil- 
lage of Huong Dien near the coast north of Hue. 
Colonel Joshua Dorsey's Marine Advisory Unit found 
itself fully committed to field operations with the 
VNMC Division, establishing a combat operations 
center, a fire support coordination center, and a com- 
munications center in the village school house. Colonel 
Dorsey abolished the battalion advisory billets and in- 
creased the brigade advisory teams to six officers, in- 
cluding a fire support coordinator. Frequent task 
organizing of the brigade teams still provided advi- 
sors to the battalions when required. 8 

In order to support the division, elements of the 
Amphibious Support Battalion were deployed to MR 1 
from Saigon to operate with the ARVN 1st Area Logis- 
tics Command at Hue with the rear headquarters of 
the Marine division. To control the infusion of Ameri- 
can supporting arms, the division needed critical sup- 
port in the form of communications equipment, 
operators, and fire-support coordination personnel 
drawn from ANGLICO, 1st Radio Battalion, the Air 
Force's 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS), 
and the Army's 14th Signal Company. 9 

As the NVA offensive halted at the My Chanh River, 

**The creation of a division-sized force of Vietnamese Marines 
was the advisory unit's major goal for a number of years. Designat- 
ed a division in 1968, the personnel strength was not attained un- 
til September 1970, and specialized support and service units were 
still lacking in 1971. In March 1971 during Lam Son 719 a division 
command post deployed to control VNMC brigades involved in the 
incursion into Laos with mixed results. By 1972 the desire to field 
the VNMC Division as a unit was high on the list of advisor priorities. 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800666 
The Marine leadership for the defense of Hue included, from left, BGen Edward J. Miller 
of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade; Col Joshua Dorsey, Senior Marine Advisor; and 
BGen Bui The Lan, commanding the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Gen Lan's use of the 
nametape "Laan" was as an aid for pronounciation for the benefit of the Americans. 

The deployment and conduct of operations by the entire Marine Division required com- 
mand and control facilities near the front lines. The location of the division forward com- 
mand post was the small coastal village of Huong Dien within the local school building. 
The building housed the combat operations and fire support coordination centers. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800660 




everything to the north was declared a free-fire zone. 
The 1st Regional Assistance Command believed that 
the Communist forces were capable of launching a new 
offensive in Thua Thien Province. The 304th, 308th 
and 324B NVA Divisions, the 202 d and 203d NVA 
Armored Regiments, and supporting units wete all 
available to the enemy. The NVA also could hold 
Quang Tri Province with two divisions, supported by 
artillery and armor. 10 From 5 to 25 May, the NVA 
probed the river-edge defenses. Losses sustained in 
ptevious weeks did not permit full-scale offensive ac- 
tions, but rhe enemy's intentions were clear. Hue was 
the target and a major assault of the My Chanh Line 
was imminent. 

On 5 May, VNMC Btigade 258 displaced its head- 
quarters north from Hue ro Phong Dien on QL-1 to 
telieve the headquarters of VNMC Brigade 369. It was 
a shift of headquartets only, as the respective battal- 
ions remained in place and rhe 39th ARVN Ranger 
Battalion assumed control of Camp Evans. Brigade 
commander Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Van Dinh con- 
centrared his 2d VNMC Battalion at the junction of 
QL-1 and the My Chanh River in order to prevent any 
reconstruction of the bridge by the enemy. Dinh heav- 
ily teinforced his western flank as he anticipated the 
all-out attack on Hue to originare in the nearby 
foothills. The area to the west, due to thick canopy 
and tolling hills, was well concealed ftom aerial ob- 
servation. The Matines of Brigade 258 were thinly 
spread over a large area, but Dinh was confident. He 
kept his units moving, effectively employing the ptin- 
ciple of economy of force by concentrating his forces 
only as enemy thteats developed. Static defensive po- 
sitions did not suit him; he was anxious to push north. 
He told his advisors, "give me 20 tanks and a diver- 
sionary attack from the east, and we will be in Quang 
Tri City in two days."" 

VNMC Btigade 369 assumed operational control of 
the eastern half of the division's area of rhe My Chanh 
Line, including the Regional and Popular Force units 
responsible for the atea near the coast. This dtastical- 
ly reduced VNMC Brigade 369's area of responsibility 
and the My Chanh Line was stronger than ever. 
Colonel Pham Van Chung, who commanded Brigade 
369 during the withdrawal of South Vietnamese forces 
from Quang Tri City and to the My Chanh Rivet, be- 
came division chief of staff (forward). Lieutenant 
Colonel Nguyen The Luong then assumed command 
of the brigade. 

VNMC Brigade 147 remained at Hue with rhe 4th 
and 8th VNMC Battalions, replacing personnel and 

Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 
Superior Communist artillery equipment continued 
to provide the North Vietnamese their main long- 
range weapon. Its concentrated fire proved devastat- 
ing to the ability of the South Vietnamese to fight 
in MR 1 from positions designed to withstand rocket 
and mortar attacks only. This 122mm gun is a Chinese 
Type 60, used along with Soviet D74 artillery pieces. 

making up supply losses directly from U.S. Marine 
Corps stocks. Lieutenant Colonel Turley assisted 
Colonel Dotsey in these resupply efforts. New anti- 
tank weapons arrived to augment the Vietnamese Ma- 
rine capabilities to defeat armor on the ground. n 

North Vietnamese 130mm guns, however, con- 
tinued to trouble the Matine defenders along rhe My 
Chanh River. The ARVN 175mm guns, which out- 
ranged the enemy artillery, were back in action. The 
reorganized Marine division fire support coordination 
center (FSCC) at Hue made every efforr to provide 
lucrative enemy tatgets for the 175s. NVA heavy ar- 
tillery was well deployed, making it difficult for the 
air observers to get a fix on firing positions. Due to 
the SA-7 antiaircraft threat, airborne forward air con- 
trollers, forced to fly above 9,500 feet, could not readily 
spot enemy gun flashes. The enemy guns had no more 
than two platoons (two to four guns) in any one posi- 
tion. These were spread all over the northwest portion 
of Quang Tri Province. As FACs flew over suspected 
enemy gun positions, the guns obviously would cease 
firing and another platoon would open up from a 
different sector, linked by an efficient communications 
network. 13 

The Marines Attack 

Using his Marine and airborne units in MR 1, 
General Truong conducted a seties of limited objec- 
tive attacks and raids. These were a combination of 
heliborne and amphibious assaults together with 




Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800686 
U.S. Marine direct support arrived from the 9th MAB for the defense of Hue. Here Viet- 
namese Marines board a Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight from HMM-I64 for the first of a number 
of helicopter assaults behind enemy lines flown by the Americans in the spring of 1972. 

ground attacks that provided the South Vietnamese 
time to prepare for their counteroffensive and succeed- 
ed in keeping the NVA off balance. The South Viet- 
namese gave the code name Song Than (Tidal Wave) 
to these operations. 14 

With two usable bridges and available air, naval 
gunfire, and artillery support under his control, 
Colonel Lan began planning for operations within his 
area. Colonel Dorsey suggested a heliborne assault into 
the Hai Lang District. The commanding general of 
MR 1, General Truong, fully concurred with the Ma- 
rine recommendation and asked General Abrams for 
Seventh Fleet support from the 9th MAB. Under the 
guidance of their commander, the Vietnamese Marines 
began planning a helicopter raid. Within 72 hours of 
final approval, the raid, named Song Than 5-72, was 

During darkness on 12 May, the first Marines to go 
north since the NVA invasion clandestinely crossed the 
My Chanh River. Captain Luc of Brigade 369's recon- 
naissance company, First Lieutenant Thu Xuan, the 

communications officer of the 9th VNMC Battalion, 
and a small group of other Marines swam the river to 
establish a communications site to assist command and 
control of the operation the next morning. 15 

In the first instance of direct support from the 9th 
MAB, CH-46s and CH-53s from HMM-164 lifted 1,138 
Vietnamese Marines into attack positions. To move the 
two battalions, 60 Vietnamese Marines were carried 
by each U.S. Marine CH-53 and 20 by each CH-46 
in two sequential waves. Lieutenant Colonel Edward 
C "Ed" Hertberg of HMM-164 planned to provide the 
maximum possible lift capability in each wave and to 
reduce possible losses. Operations officer Major 
Donald C. Brodie explained that the "helicopter as- 
sault routes were flown at 'nap-of-the-earth' height," 
contrary to then-current practice. The CH-46s were to 
be 30 to 40 feet off the deck (above ground) and the 
CH-53s only slightly higher. 19 A single wave of helicop- 
ters was used for each of two landing zones, reducing 
the exposure time to NVA antiaircraft fire. 

Major Frank S. Bells' maintenance crews on the USS 



Okinawa (LPH 3) made the aircraft ready for launch 
and began their long wait for recovery. The first 
helicopter launch from the offshore amphibious ready 
group went at 0800, 13 May, and within 40 minutes 
all helicopters were in the air and enroute to Fire Sup- 
port Base Sally to load the 3d and 8th VNMC Battal- 
ions, the assault force from Lieutenant Colonel Luong's 
369th Brigade. 

Six AH-lGs, two OH-6As, and a UH-1 of the Ar- 
my's Troop F, 4th Cavalry (Air Cavalry) flying from 
Hue/Phu Bai provided armed escort. Brodie com- 
mented that the transport helicopters were free to em- 
ploy whatever evasive maneuvers they felt the terrain 
and enemy threat presented: "Troop F would adjust 
their flight paths as necessary to avoid us and attack 
the targets or areas of potential threat. With our 'jinx- 
ing' flight and their escort service, I always thought 
it looked like snakes crawling through a kettle of 
spaghetti." 17 

The two landing zones received devastating fire 
from the air and sea. As a result, touchdown in Land- 
ing Zone Tango ocurred at 0930 without opposition 
in a cloud of dust and smoke. The Marine helicopters 
returned to the ships for fuel then flew back to Fire 
Support Base Sally for the second wave at 1055. As 
the lead aircraft touched down in Landing Zone Del- 
ta at 1136, Major David J. Moore, the squadron ex- 
ecutive officer, radioed the "LZ is hot from here on 
in" as moderate small-arms fire was received. Immedi- 
ately, the Army commander of the escorting gunships 
shifted the landing to the southern portion of the 

Armed helicopter escort was provided by U.S. 
Nang and Hue-Phu Bai. This is a Bell AH-1 
coastal plain in support of operations with 

zone. "Troop wave continue . . . ." was the order passed 
to the flight. 18 The enemy hit three CH-46s and Ma- 
rine airmen left one CH-53 in the zone with a 
damaged tail rotor. The crew of the downed Sea Stal- 
lion returned to the ship with the other helicopters, 
having had to destroy the aircraft to prevent its cap- 
ture. Colonel Sumner A. Vale, the 9th MAB chief of 
staff, recalled "We received the report that one was 
down due to mechanical problems and it was known 
what the problem was .... The squadron wanted 
to go in to repair it or lift it out." General Miller de- 
nied the request because of the tactical situation. 19 

During the day's fighting, U.S. Marine helicopters 
flew 18 wounded Vietnamese Marines to Hue and also 
delivered supplies from FSB Evans. The 9th MAB's 
naval gunfire spot element of Detachment Bravo, 
HML367, flew support for the landing from the USS 
Denver. By 1250, the assault was complete and the 
9th MAB Marines were back on ship. One brigade 
helicopter was lost, another crashed at sea, and a sin- 
gle squadron Marine was wounded by enemy fire. 20 

Once on the ground, the two VNMC battalions 
swept south and attacked toward the My Chanh River. 
Shortly thereafter, the 9th VNMC Battalion crossed 
the My Chanh and attacked north toward its two sis- 
ter battalions. The 66th NVA Regiment was caught 
completely by surprise. Captain Richard W. Hodory, 
assistant battalion advisor to the 3d VNMC Battalion, 
landed with one of the assault companies. As the Ma- 
rines debarked from their helicopter the enemy 
released heavy automatic weapons fire. Captain 

Army air cavalry units operating from Da 
Cobra gunship flying over the flat, sandy, 
the American and Vietnamese Marines. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A8OO663 
Other American support arrived in the form of new weapons to counter the armor threat. 
Here a Vietnamese Marine commander and American advisor supervise the installation 
of the TOW wire-guided antitank missile launcher. Though effective to 3,000 meters, 
the system was considered too heavy to be manpacked by the individual Vietnamese. 

Hodory moved with the Marines as they assaulted 
across 400 meters of open rice paddies toward an en- 
ttenched enemy. This aggressive action drove the NVA 
from their positions, but as the Marines consolidat- 
ed, heavy enemy mortar, automatic weapons, and 
small arms fire began raking the area- Captain Hodory 
immediately called for and controlled supporting ar- 
tillery fire. In the face of this fire the enemy broke 
as the Marines counterattacked. Hodory then called 
for air strikes and naval gunfire, inflicting sevete casual- 
ties on the withdrawing forces, and earning himself 
a Bronze Star Medal. 21 As the battalion then marched 
south to link up with the 9th VNMC Battalion, it un- 
covered large quantities of combat equipment and 
freed more than 150 civilians who had been detained 
by the enemy. 

Although the operation lasted only one day, Song 
Than 5-72 worked. The Marines owed much of this 
success to the element of surprise and to the heavy 
fire support. Elements of the division FSCC had dis- 
placed to the brigade command post at Phong Dien 
to support the attack. The U.S. Air Force representa- 
tive directed tactical air support from the main divi- 

sion FSCC. Major Golden, MR 1 naval gunfire officer, 
flying over the battle area, and three ANGLICO spot 
teams moving with the ground elements, controlled 
naval gunfire and ARVN artillery. The joint efforts 
resulted in reports of 240 NVA soldiers killed, three 
enemy tanks destroyed, and two 130mm guns put out 
of action. 

The North Vietnamese React 
Stunned by this attack at the rear, the NVA quick- 
ly rallied and, on 21 May, mounted a full-scale armor 
and infantry attack on the My Chanh Line. Contrary 
to what Colonel Lan and his staff had expected, the 
NVA attacked due south down the coastal highway, 
Route 555, moved across the My Chanh River, and 
penetrated Brigade 369 s defensive area. The Region- 
al Force troops fell back, exposing the flanks of the 
3d and 9th VNMC Battalions. Vulnerable to the over- 
whelming armor threat, both battalions withdrew. Af- 
ter an all-day fight, however, the two battalions, 
assisted by close air strikes and ARVN armored caval- 
ry, began pushing the enemy back towards the My 
Chanh River. The Marines had suffered heavy casual- 
ties, but by nightfall, had restored the line. The ene- 



my remained determined to gain a foothold on the 
south bank of the river. 

At 0100, 22 May, the NVA launched a tank-infantry 
attack against the 3d VNMC Battalion. They had the 
initiative and could "smell blood," one American ad- 
visor reported. 22 The numerically superior force, sup- 
ported by 25 tanks, overran the forward battalion, but 
not before the Marines had destroyed eight tanks with 
M72 LAWs and direct fire from 105mm howitzers. 
Continuing their attack through the early morning 
darkness, the enemy penetrated deeply into friendly 
territory, hitting VNMC Brigade 369's command post 
at first light. Inside the command bunker was Major 
Robert D. Shoptaw, an advisor with the division staff, 
who recalled Major Regan R. Wright, the brigade ar- 
tillery advisor, "getting a crash course on how to fire 
the LAW from a young Vietnamese Marine." The 
brigade advisor, Major Robert F. Sheridan, directed 
Major Donald L. Price to see if the newly arrived an- 
titank weapons could be used. A U.S. Army sergeant 
fired the TOW (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire- 
guided) missile system from atop the command and 
control center bunker. Vietnamese Marines cheered as 
a PT-76 burst into flames and then as a second mis- 
sile demolished a heavy machine gun nest. This ac- 
tion marked the first time the ground TOW system 
had been fired in combat.* 23 Five enemy armored ve- 
hicles came within 400 meters of the command post 
before being destroyed. By 0930, a total of 10 tanks 
and armored personnel carriers had been destroyed. 
As the 8th VNMC Battalion counterattacked, the ene- 
my fled the battlefield, leaving their dead and wound- 
ed. The NVA had paid a heavy price and gained 
nothing; the My Chanh line was intact. 24 
Operation Song Than 6-72 

The VNMC's next offensive action, a spoiling at- 
tack, took place using the 4th, 6th, and 7th Battal- 
ions of VNMC Brigade 147. This time, the Marines 
used both surface and vertical assaults. From planning 
to execution, the amphibious assault took less then 
36 hours. On 23 May, the 7th VNMC Battalion and 
its advisors moved by truck to the Tan My naval base 
where it boarded landing craft for the short trip to 
the ships of the U.S. amphibious force — the Schenec- 
tady (LST 1185), Manitowoc (LST 1180), and Cayuga 
(LST 1186), and the Duluth (LPD 6). 

*G-4 advisor Major Robert D. Shopraw, nored, "Since the TOW 
was large and the Vietnamese were small, they didn't favor it. This 
was the same attitude they harbored about carrying 81mm mor- 
tars. Despire rhe field advisors pleas . . . ." efforts were made to 
obtain vehicle-mounted systems. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800643 
South Vietnamese load an American landing craft 
mechanized (ICM) at Tan My naval base northeast of 
Hue. These "Mike " boats took them to the amphibi- 
ous ships of the Seventh fleet for surface assaults on 
the Communist flank. The boats were manned by 
sailors and Marines of the amphibious forces. 

The VNMC G-3 operations officer, Lieutenant 
Colonel Do Ky, and a small division staff went on 
board the Blue Ridge with Colonel Lan to coordinate 
the assault. The amphibious assault, known as Oper- 
ation Song Than 6-72, was conducted with VNMC 
Brigade 147 Headquarters serving as landing force 
headquarters. Detailed planning and close coordina- 
tion were required with Brigadier General Edward J. 
Miller and his 9th MAB, the U.S. Navy amphibious 
ships of ARGs Bravo and Charlie, the American B-52 
Arc Light strikes, and the largest assembly of naval 
gunfire support ships in the Vietnam War. Early on 
the next morning, the VNMC Division's combined 
surface-helicopter assault took place at Wunder 
Beach — the former "Street Without Joy" area, a few 
miles southeast of Quang Tri City. 

On the Cayuga and the Duluth the Vietnamese Ma- 
rines were assigned to boat teams and lined up on deck 
in order. The Vietnamese Marines stayed in place un- 
til called away to load the amphibian tractors. Final 
coordination and briefings were completed by the 
Vietnamese and American assault units. Major Walter 



E. Boomer, with the 7th, recalled that the most of the 
Vietnamese Marines had never made an amphibious 
landing before, and spent the night on the open flight 
decks of the landing ships. 25 

As the Vietnamese stretched out along the deck and 
ate their evening meal, curious U.S. Marines came over 
and struck up conversations in halting phrases. Some 
advisors, Vietnamese Marines, and American Marines 
of the landing force had served together previously. 
As old acquaintances were renewed, the Vietnamese 
invited the Americans to come along with them for 
the assault: "Together they would kill many Com- 
munists! Sat Cong!" Ritual landing preparations con- 
tinued throughout the amphibious task force, 
undertaken with the routine of an exercise, creating 
a feeling of life imitating art for those not actively in- 

volved in the landing. Yet previous enemy artillery hits 
on naval gunfire ships and resistance to the first 
helicopter landing showed the Communists could and 
would inflict damage offshore. 

The landing began the next morning, 24 May, with 
artillery, air, and naval gunfire strikes on Red Beach 
and Landing Zone Columbus. Lifting off the Okina- 
wa at 0750, the helicopters of HMMT64 headed 
towards Tan My to pick up the VNMC assault troops. 
Elements of the 4th and 6th VNMC Battalions met 
Lieutenant Colonel Hertberg's aircraft on a highway 
which served as the pick-up zone. Loading some 550 
Vietnamese Marines, the helicopters took off for their 

The LSTs launched 20 amphibian tractors, with Ma- 
rine crews and VNMC assault troops, from a release 

A landing craft approaches the open stern of an amphibious transport dock (LPD) where 
South Vietnamese forces will embark for the Wunder Beach landing. The well deck can 
accommodate a number and variety of landing craft and allows the transfer of ground 
combat forces without the more time-consuming and dangerous use of nets and ladders, 

Dep2rtmenr of Defense Photo (USMC) A800675 



point 3,600 yards off Wunder Beach. Watching from 
the Cayuga was company First Sergeant Robert S. Yna- 
cay, who commented "It was a beautiful day for a land- 
ing, nice and clear . . . " 2a The LVTs formed into two 
waves, the first consisting of First Lieutenant John T. 
Paparone's LVT Platoon, BLT 1/4, and the second by 
First Lieutenant Robert L. Williams' LVT Platoon, BLT 
1/9. As the "Amtracs" closed within 2,000 yards of Red 
Beach a final B-52 Arc Light placed a string of bombs 
down the length of the beach, raising a curtain of fire 
and sand. The tractors hit the beach at 0832 and were 
met by scattered NVA infantry and artillery fire. Lieu- 
tenant Williams commented: 

We approached the beach as the first mortar rounds went 
off. As soon as they hit, a Vietnamese Marine tried to crawl 
up my leg and out the hatch. We beached, dropped the 
ramp, and literally threw Marines out the hatch. 27 

As the Vietnamese Marines consolidated and moved 
off the beach behind continuing air support and naval 
gunfire, the U.S. Marines turned their amphibian trac- 
tors into the water and returned to the ships. It was 
the first combat experience for nine of every 10 Ameri- 
cans involved * While launching the surface assault, 
the Duluth and the Cayuga were fired upon by a NVA 
artillery battery. The destroyer USS Hanson (DD 832) 
immediately joined the other gunfire support ships 
in returning fire and silenced the NVA battery. 26 On 
the Duluth, BLT 3/4's Lieutenant Colonel William R. 
Von Harten remembered rhar the ship "made black 
smoke and we got the hell out of shore fire range." 2B 

Initial reports from the landing force indicated that 
the 7th VNMC Battalion had secured its immediate 
objectives, killing at least 50 Communist troops in the 
process. As they quickly moved over the sand dunes 
to the south, the Marines encountered only token 
resistance from the surprised enemy. Later field mes- 
sages reported large amounts of enemy weapons, am- 
munition, and food caches captured. 

At 0940, 18 CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters from 
HMM-164 lifted elements of the 4th and 6th VNMC 
Battalions into Landing Zone Columbus near Quang 
Tri City at the road junction of Routes 555 and 602. 
Artillery smoke was laid west of LZ Columbus to screen 
the helicopter movement from enemy artillery fire and 
the Army air-cavalry division gunships marked the 
zone with suppressive fires. No enemy fire was encoun- 
tered by the Marine helicopters as the Vietnamese Ma- 

*A combat cargo officet had initially refused to issue contingen- 
cy ammunition (L Rjrm) to the "Amtrackers" until overruled by the 
BLT 1/9 commander of troops on the ship, Captain Dennis R. Ken- 
dig, who cited the authotity of "common sense." (Kendig Comments) 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 
While the amphibious assault was underway, other 
Vietnamese forces were carried into the attack by 
HMM-164. LtCol James A. Poland, a division staff ad- 
visor, uses hand signals to guide CH-46s to the high- 
way landing zone established to pick up the Marines. 

rines unloaded. Soon after landing, however, both 
battalions made heavy contact with elements of the 
18th NVA Regiment, 325th NVA Division?* Two ene- 
my soldiers captured by the Marines stated that their 
regiment had just arrived in the area in preparation 
for an attack on the My Chanh Line. 

All the battalions of Brigade 147 returned to the 
My Chanh position, terminating the second offensive 
action by the VNMC. For the second time in 11 days, 
Vietnamese Marines supported by the 9th MAB and 
Task Force 76 effectively countered the Communist 
threat to Hue. In addition to the two prisoners of war, 
369 enemy were believed killed, three tanks were des- 
troyed, and more than 1,000 civilians were freed from 
Communist control. 30 

While VNMC Brigade 147 was engaged on the 
coast, the NVA executed an attack of its own. 31 One 
day after the landing, at 0530, 25 May, a numerically 
superior NVA tank-infantry force hit Brigade 258 in 
the western portion of the VNMC division's large area 
of responsibility. The regimental-size enemy force 
made a stubborn attempt to break the My Chanh Line. 

**}2jth NVA Division: 18th Infantry Regiment; 95th Infantry 
Regiment; and 101st Infantry Regiment. 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
With the troops loaded, the helicopters launched to fly north. In the foreground is a 
group of civilians from nearby villages. The presence of noncombatants in the battle area 
was a continuing concern for commanders for humanitarian and military reasons. 

Although enemy armor was employed in unprecedent- 
ed numbers, the NVA committed its infantry prema- 
turely, exposing it to heavy supporting arms fire. Water 
from the many small tributaries of the My Chanh River 
became undrinkable due to the hundreds of enemy 
dead polluting these streams. The countryside was lit- 
tered with burned-out hulks of enemy vehicles. 

One of the biggest advantages the Vietnamese Ma- 
rines enjoyed during their defense of the My Chanh 
River was the combat information provided by air ob- 
servers and forward air controllers. "They were face- 
less, but every advisor knew them intimately by their 
callsigns," later wrote Major Sheridan, who had been 
with VNMC Brigade 369, "They were our link with 
the outside world." Captain George Philip, also with 
369, recalled "The observers were on station 24 hours 
a day and Spectres [AC-130s] were up every night " 32 

One Marine advisor, Captain Allen D. Nettlein- 
gham with VNMC Brigade 258, said the USAF FACs 
did an outstanding job in spite of the restrictions 
placed upon them: 

... no way we can praise them enough. In fact we were 
extremely fortunate in that most of the FACs who came up 
to fly for us just happened to have 'faulty' altimeters and 
that helped us considerably. The FACs, flying much lower 
than the prescribed ceiling, would trace tank tracks right 
into the hootches with the tanks sitting inside. They would 
then call in an airstrike and blow the tanks away. Other FACs 
flying at night picked up a couple of convoys just north of 
the bridge and called in an "artillery raid'— a massive TOT— 
and destroyed the trucks.* 33 

As air observers and FACs uncovered road and trail 
networks or spotted troop movements and vehicles, 

*TOT, time-on-target, is a procedure by which artillery fire from 
several different locations is directed at a single target and sched- 
uled to arrive at the same time. 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A8Q0746 
An LVTP-5 launches from the well deck of an under- 
way WD with a platoon of South Vietnamese Marines 
on board, The vehicle's only armament is a 30-caliber 
Browning machine gun mounted in the turret over 
the bow ramp. This photo shows the normal depth 
at which the amphibian tractor rode in the water. 

they would report them to the Marine defenders along 
the My Chanh. As trails, supply points, and troop 
sightings were plotted and connected, a pattern soon 
developed showing lines of communication mainly 
from the Ba Long Valley toward Camp Evans. With 
the arrival of the }25th NVA Division in Quang Tri 
Province, the Communists had three divisions with 
which to attack the My Chanh Line. 34 

Early on the morning of 26 May, a reinforced NVA 
battalion launched a savage attack against Brigade 
258's western flank. Captain Robert K. Redlin, an ar- 
tillery officer who had been assigned on an emergen- 
cy basis as an infantry advisor, was present as one 
element of the enemy force made the 9th VNMC Bat- 
talion pull back more than 1,000 meters to consoli- 
date. Redlin directed heavy air strikes and naval 
gunfire on the enemy, who finally broke contact, leav- 
ing their dead where they had fallen. The 1st VNMC 
Battalion, with Captain Lawrence H. Livingston, also 
was heavily hit by the enemy's fierce attack. Two NVA 
battalions from the 88th NVA Regiment, supported 
by tanks, mortars, recoilless rifles, and artillery fire, 
threatened to overrun the 1st VNMC Battalion's posi- 
tion. Livingston quickly called air strikes on the ene- 

The surface assault for Song Than 6-72 moves towards Wunder Beach. The amphibian 
tractors (LVTs) are in two parallel platoon columns as they cross behind the USS Duluth. 

Department of Defense Photo (USN) 1151901 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) 11)1899 
The heavy cruiser USS Newport News shelled the beach as the landing was completed 
and the LVT platoons returned to the amphibious group. In the background is the flat 
coastal plain which made reference points for naval gunfire hard to locate from the sea. 

my, inflicting many casualties. Again the South 
Vietnamese had stopped the enemy drive to Hue. As 
the NVA withdrew from the VNMC Brigade 258 area, 
they left more than 200 corpses on the battlefield. 

May had been a bad month for the NVA along the 
My Chanh River. It had suffered more than 2,900 sold- 
iers killed, 1,080 weapons captured, and 64 armored 
vehicles destroyed or captured. The Communists had 
failed to capture Hue. The My Chanh Line had held 
and it was a good month for the Vietnamese Marines. 
On 28 May, on the Emperor's Walkway in front of the 
Imperial Palace at Hue, President Thieu personally 
promoted Colonel Lan to brigadier general. During 
the month more than 15,000 Vietnamese Marines had 
joined the defenders of MR 1 and practically every 
able-bodied Marine was now in the northern provinces. 

In the Balance 
The first part of June 1972 was characterized by 
limited South Vietnamese offensive thrusts north 
across the My Chanh River, but by the end of the 
month a major effort had been launched to recapture 
Quang Tri City. Major General Howard H. Cooksey, 
USA, replaced General Kroesen as the senior Ameri- 
can in MR 1, and as such, he continued the American 
support to General Truong in the defense of Hue and 
the counteroffensive to regain Quang Tri Province. This 

month also witnessed the departure of General 
Creighton W. Abrams and his replacement by General 
Frederick C. Weyand, USA, as MACV commander. 

With its maneuver battalions up to combat strength 
and fire support agencies consolidated in the VNMC 
Division's FSCC, the Vietnamese Marines took the in- 
itiative on 8 June and launched a spoiling attack 
named Song Than 8-72. All three VNMC brigades 
were committed in a four-battalion attack across the 
river. The Marines moved forward under the cover of 
a closely coordinated and well-executed fire support 
plan which included B-52 strikes, tactical air, artillery, 
and naval gunfire. The American-established FSCC 
at division headquarters permitted supporting arms 
to be fired in concert, a technique heretofore fraught 
with problems of execution. According to Lieutenant 
Colonel Duncan M. Jones, the division artillery advi- 
sor who had helped set up the fire support coordina- 
tion center, "there were still many problems, but none 
that could not be overcome." 35 

As the battalions crossed the My Chanh River, the 
heaviest resistance was encountered along the coastal 
areas, particularly along Route 555, known to the 
Americans as the "Triple Nickel." The enemy was well 
entrenched, but friendly. casualties were comparatively 
light with nine men killed in action. The NVA took 



a heavy beating, with the successful Marine operation 
accounting for 230 enemy killed, seven tanks des- 
troyed, and 102 weapons, including several SA-7 
surface-to-air missiles, captured or destroyed. At the 
conclusion of the operation the Marines were north 
of the My Chanh River, once again in Quang Tri 
Province, and anxious to continue north. 38 

In order to consolidate the Marines' captured terri- 
tory, ARVN engineers built pontoon bridges across the 
My Chanh River to give tanks, artillery, and trucks ac- 
cess to Quang Tri Province. Plans were already being 
made to send the Marine brigades back into the offen- 
sive. Such plans culminated in Song Than SA-72. This 
operation was another spoiling attack which began on 
18 June. Once again all three VNMC brigades were 
involved. Marine Brigade 147 struck north along Route 
555, into the notorious "Street Without Joy" coastal 
area. VNMC Brigade 369 held the center position as 
it attacked across open rice paddies, flanked to the west 
by VNMC Brigade 258, moving along QL-1. The NVA 
forces were defending in depth along QL-1 and Route 

555, reinforced by armor, artillery, and antiaircraft 
units. Stream and canal networks between the two 
roads were interlaced with trenches and fortified po- 
sitions. Further to the west lay rolling hills and the 
enemy's 130mm guns. 

As the 6th VNMC Battalion with VNMC Brigade 
147 moved north along Route 555, it was met by an 
enemy counterattack. During darkness on 20 June, a 
reinforced enemy infantry battalion supported by 
tanks and artillery hit the 6th Battalion's defensive po- 
sitions. The NVA tanks were not coordinated with the 
infantry maneuver and VNMC artillery quickly 
responded to each tank sighting with massed fire. 37 
Despite the heavy artillery fire, at least 40 NVA soldi- 
ers were able to break through the 6th Battalion's 
perimeter and attack the battalion command post, 
fragmenting the command group. 

Major James M. Tully and the attached ANGLICO 
naval gunfire spot team became separated from the 
Vietnamese Marines. Locating the battalion com- 

mander, Tully, with the aid of the spot team, assisted 

Touchdown in Landing Zone Columbus was in the sandy coastal strip, the "Street Without 
Joy" of the French Indochina War. This photograph is taken from a departing helicopter 
as the South Vietnamese Marines begin to move out from their dangerously concentrat- 
ed landing formation which makes them vulnerable to enemy artillery or mortar fire. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



in calling for supporting fires. 38 For the next eight 
hours the battle raged. Both tactical aircraft and naval 
gunfire supported the battalion as Lieutenant Colonel 
Do Huu Tung rallied his battered Marines for a tank 
and infantry counterattack. Backed by B-52 strikes and 
other supporting arms, the 6th VNMC Battalion 
pushed the enemy from the penetrated position* The 
enemy responded with heavy artillery and mortar fire 
throughout the entire zone of action. While the 6th 
VNMC Battalion was fighting for its life, the 1st and 
5th VNMC Battalions also repulsed large armored 

By 27 June, the VNMC had successfully established 
a new defensive line four kilometers north of the My 
Chanh River. The operation had netted 761 enemy 
killed, eight tanks destroyed, and freed hundreds of 
captive villagers. 39 The liberated Vietnamese from a 

*Majoi Tully was instrumental in helping organize the effort to 
repulse the enemy and later was awarded the Silver Star Medal. 

hamlet in Hai Lang District described their life un- 
der the Communists as being full of terror and forced 
labor. More than two-thirds of the population had fled 
south in the face of the Communist invasion; those 
who had stayed behind in hope of harvesting some 
of their rice crop found life miserable. According to 
one of the escapees, a young farmer named Le Thi, 
the NVA told the villagers that those who had fled 
to Hue with the ARVN forces would starve and that 
if any of those who had remained tried to escape they 
would be shot. Another said that the invaders forced 
the people to carry supplies, harvest rice, dig weapons 
caches, and build field fortifications. The attacks by 
the South Vietnamese Marines had made escape from 
NVA occupation possible for more than 2,000 peo- 
ple. The villagers were sent south to the My Chanh 
River where boats picked them up at the river's edge 
and took them to Hue. Trucks eventually transported 
them from Hue to Da Nang refugee camps. 40 


Quang Tri City Regained 

Truong's Counteroffensive —The Battle for Quang Tri City— Taking the Citadel— The Final Assault 

Truong's Counteroffensive 
With a firm hold on the southern portion of Quang 
Tri Province and daily attacking the enemy supply 
lines, the South Vietnamese planned in earnest for the 
recapture of lost territory to the north. 1 Corps' Lieu- 
tenant General Ngo Quang Truong wanted to defend 
Hue against threats from the west while conducting 
offensive operations from positions along the My 
Chanh River to regain the Quang Tri-Dong Ha area. 
Troung wrote, the "limited offensive operations had 
brought us enough time to prepare for the long- 
awaited big push northward." 1 FRAC's Major General 
Howard H. Cooksey reported that the objective was 
to recapture Quang Tri Province, but that the destruc- 
tion of enemy forces and material was an important 
secondary task and the South Vietnamese decided, at 
first, to bypass Quang Tri City. 2 

Teams from ANGLICO were in all four military 
regions to meet the increased demands for fire sup- 
port coordination. In response to Lieutenant Colonel 
D'Wayne Gray's urgings, the American command or- 
ganized its fire support assets, including ANGLICO, 
to support offensive as well as defensive operations in 
MR 1. FRAC integrated air, artillery, and naval gun- 
fire for maximum effect in support of the ground 
fighting. Major Glen Golden was with the liaison team 
with FRAC in Hue; liaison/spot teams were with the 
VNMC Division, the Airborne Division, 1st ARVN Di- 
vision, and 2d ARVN Division; and naval gunfire air 
spot teams were flying out of Phu Bai and Da Nang. 3 
Phase one of Lam Son or Total Victory 72, the multi- 
division I Corps counteroffensive, began after six days 
of extensive preparatory fires by all available support- 
ing arms and an amphibious feint at the mouth of the 
Cua Viet River* The operational concept was for the 
Vietnamese Airborne Division and the Marine Divi- 
sion to attack abreast to the northwest, employing both 
surface and helicopter assaults to seize a line along the 
Thach Han River. The Marines' axis of advance was 
along Route 555, taking in the area from the coast 
to QL-1. The Airborne Division's area included QL-1 
on the right to the foothills on the left, with Quang 
Tri City in their zone of action. 

*Known as Song Than 9-72 to the VNMC. 

A 9th MAB amphibious demonstration on "D-l" 
preceded the counteroffensive. A special amphibious 
task group was activated by Task Force 76 to simulate 
the preparation and conduct of an amphibious assault. 
VNMC units went on board ship from Tan My to add 
credence to the northern feint. On 27 June 1972, the 
American amphibious forces moved to the objective 
area and by 0800 landing craft and amphibian tractors 
carrying South Vietnamese Marines were near their 
turnaway point. Helicopters from HMM-165, com- 
manded by Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. F. "Doc" 
Egger, launched from the USS Tripoli (LPH 10) and 
headed for the beach. At 0806, the surface force — 
simultaneously with the helicopter force — reversed 
direction 5,000 yards from the shore. 

Intelligence estimates by the 1st Regional Assistance 
Command later indicated confusion and relocation of 
some NVA units in response to the demonstration, 
contributing to the initial success of Lam Son 72. It 
was also noted that the North Vietnamese reacted 
quickly, firing artillery at the amphibious ships from 
the mainland and offshore islands. 4 Colonel Sumner 
A. Vale, the 9th MAB chief of staff, witnessed the NVA 
shore fire "landing in the wake of the Blue Ridge and 
a ship to the starboard of her." Second Lieutenant 
Stephen C. Fogleman, a rifle platoon commander with 
BLT 1/9, recalled: 

. . . We were on the Schenectady and were heading out 
from the beach. Tiger Island was passing on our port side. 
It was flat and green and fairly low in the water. We saw 
white flashes from the foliage, then saw the shcllbursts walk- 
ing towards us, both in the air and on the surface. The Ma- 
rines passing ammunition on the aft gun-mount didn't flinch 
and continued to pass ammunition to the 3"50s which 
banged away. The cruiser [USS Newport News] came in and 
opened up, after which the guns on Tiger Island remained 
silent. It was more fire than we had received during Song 
Than 6-72. 5 

On 28 June, the Marine Division's portion of the 
overall I Corps effort began. The 3d, 5th, 7th, and 
8th VNMC Battalions pushed north and immediately 
encountered stiff resistance. The enemy was well dug- 
in and showed no inclination to withdraw. General Lan 
launched a helicopter-borne assault behind the enemy 
lines to relieve the pressure on the attacking Marine 




Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO Deployments, Fall 1972 

Command Section 
Officer in Charge 

Military Region 1 

Naval Gunfire Liaison Team 
(FRAC Main /Hue) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(lsr VNMC Div/Hue) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(1st ARVN Airborne Div/Hue) 

Naval Gunfire Air Spot Team 
(FRAC/Phu Bail 

Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(1st ARVN Div/Camp Eagle) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison Team 
(FRAC /Da Nang) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison Team 
(FRAC Rear/Da Nang) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison /Spot Team 
(2d ARVN Div/Chu Lai) 

Military Region 2 


Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(22d ARVN Div/Ba Gi) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison /Spot Team 
(22d ARVN Div/LZ Uplift) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison /Spot Team 
(22d ARVN Div/LZ Olie) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(22d ARVN Div/LZ Crystal) 

Naval Gunfire Air Spot Team 
(Binh Dinh Province/Phu Cat) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(Binh Dinh Province/Qui Nhon) 

Military Region 4 

Naval Gunfire Liaison Team 
(DRAC/Can Tho) 

Naval Gunfire Air Spot Team 
(DRAC/Binh Thuy) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison/Spot Team 
(9th ARVN Div/Rach Gia) 

Naval Gunfire Liaison /Spot Team 
(An Xuyen Province/Ca Mau) 

Adapted from Sub Unit One Material 


Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A374578 
On a command tour of the Pacific, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps visits units 
involved in the Spring Offensive fighting. From left in the Hue Citadel are Gen Robert 
E. Cushman, CMC; Col Joshua Dorsey, Senior Marine Advisor; BGen Bui The Lan, VNMC; 
LtCol D'Wayne Gray, SUl, 1st ANGLICO; and BGen Edward J. Miller, 9th MAB. 

U.S. Marine helicopters turn away from the Vietnamese coast during the amphibious 
demonstration by the 9th MAB for the lam Son counteroffensive. Both the air and sur- 
face assaults were aimed at the North Vietnamese rear positions along the Cua Viet River. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800753 




Department of Defense Photo (USN) 1151900 
Amphibian tractors underway after turning back from the shoreline. Though the Lam Son 
landing was contrived, the Communist reaction was genuine and the amphibious group 
withdrew from the area under accurate artillery fire from enemy coastal defensive positions. 

battalions. On 29 June, the 1st and 4th VNMC Bat- 
talions, supported by the 9th MAB, conducted a heli- 
copter assault and secured key objectives along Route 
555 and the coastline in the vicinity of Wunder Beach. 
For a third time, U.S. Marine CH-46 and CH-53 
helicopters had lifted Vietnamese Marines into enemy- 
held positions. 

A helicopter pilot with HMM-165 described his first 
combat flight: 

The first wave lifted off and the second wave of 46s were 
pulled out of the stack and spotted. Within seconds they 
were turning and launched. We were spotted on 2 and 3. 
We unfolded our blades and the crew chief went topside 
to check the locking pins, As soon as we were turning, tow- 
er cleared us to launch." 

Helicopters from the USS Tripoli and Okinawa load- 
ed the two VNMC battalions at Tan My, flew them 
north, and put them down in Landing Zones Flamingo 
and Hawk. After intensive shore, sea, and air 
bombardment— including B-52 Arc Lights — had 
blasted the enemy, the helicopters landed and were 
met by small arms fire. Only scattered enemy forces 
opposed the 1,450 Vietnamese Marines landing with 
precision. The helicopters from HMM-164 and 

HMM-165 returned to the ships with minor damage 
and no casualties. ANGLlCO's First Lieutenant 
Stephen G. Biddulph, with the 1st Battalion, recalled 
that after the assault "the enemy on several occasions 
tried to rush tanks and armored personnel carriers 
down the surf to envelop us." The NVA effort did not 
succeed because of the direct fire from ships positioned 
4,000 meters offshore. 7 

The start of Lam Son 72 was a complete success as 
the vertical envelopment relieved the pressure to the 
south and facilitated a rapid advance and recapture 
of lost territory. 8 As June ended, the NVA had given 
up more ground as they were pushed further back into 
Quang Tri Province. The South Vietnamese daily cap- 
tured artillery, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. 
During the month, the allies killed 1,515 enemy sold- 
iers and destroyed 18 armored vehicles. The Marines 
took 15 enemy prisoners. 

Flying in support of these operations were airborne 
air controllers and naval gunfire spotters with 20th 
TASS out of Da Nang. As part of this continuous 
coverage, on 29 June, Captain Steven L. Bennett, 
USAF, and an ANGLlCO air observer, Captain 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800684 
South Vietnamese Marines head north once more as the Lam Son counteroffensive returns 
them to Quang Trt Province. Helicopters from HMM-164 and 'HMM-165 pick up waiting 
helo-teams from the 1st and 4th VNMC Battalions, using a road as a pickup zone. 

"Like a school of sharks," was one description of the low-level flight pattern used by the 
Marines to evade enemy antiaircraft fire enroute to Landing Zones Flamingo and Hawk- 
Army escort gunships and supporting arms were also used to reduce the enemy threat. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800677 



Deparrmenr of Defense Photo (USN) 1151902 
ANCLICO spot teams controlled naval gunfire that struck Communist targets along the 
coast in support of Lam Son 72. The USS George K. MacKenzie stands off the coast as 
its 5 -inch, 38-caliber ordnance explodes on shore in support of ongoing operations. 

Michael B. Brown, USMC, flew one such sortie in an 
OV-10. After operating for three hours over the battle 
area, Captains Bennett and Brown received an urgent 
request from a South Vietnamese unit under attack 
by a larger NVA force, With no air support in the im- 
mediate area and the combatants too close for gun- 
fire, Bennett rolled in to strafe the enemy. After the 
aircraft pulled out of its fifth run, an SA-7 missile 
struck its left engine, setting it on fire, dropping the 
landing gear, and piercing the canopy with fragments. 
Bennett turned south and he and Brown prepared to 
eject. At this point Brown reported "my ejection sys- 
tem was severely damaged" and would not work. Cap- 
tain Bennett then chose to ditch the aircraft in the 
Gulf of Tonkin, an unheard-of procedure for the OV-10 
and one from which no crew in an emergency previ- 
ously had survived. The aircraft cartwheeled repeat- 
edly on impact with the water. As Brown swam clear, 
Bennett sank with the wreckage, giving his life for his 

On 30 June 1972, President Thieu went out to the 
USS Blue Ridge to express his personal appreciation 
for the American assistance during these operations. 
That same day, Fighting continued on the ARVN Air- 
borne Division's portion of the Quang Tri battlefield. 
Corporal John E. Parton was attached to the 3d ARVN 
Airborne Battalion as an ANGLICO naval gunfire 
spotter. The battalion was engaged by a well- 
entrenched Communist unit and unable to move for- 

*Ror his action, Captain Bennett was awarded a posthumous Me- 
dal of Honor. 

ward. Corporal Parton took a LAW antitank rocket and 
moved forward in an attempt to locate the machine 
gun position to his unit's front. Exposing himself to 
fire, he located the machine gun and launched the 
rocket at it, destroying the gun while receiving mor- 
tal wounds in the process.** The airborne soldiers then 
assaulted the enemy position and continued forward. 
American support was not limited to advice and 
material alone. 

Other ANGLICO Marines with the Airborne Divi- 
sion were among the first to reach the outskirts of 
Quang Tri City. First Lieutenant Anthony P. Shepard's 
spot team was assigned to the 2d ARVN Airborne 
Brigade. At 2300 on 4 July, the spot team accompa- 
nied the brigade reconnaissance company through 
friendly lines to a position southeast of the city. The 
90-man company led by Captain Tran Ut, with U.S. 
Army First Lieutenant Terry Griswold as an advisor, 
split into three groups and moved to within 300 meters 
of the Quang Tri Citadel walls. From this location 
Shepard and Lance Corporal Michael Jurak directed 
numerous air and artillery strikes on the Citadel and 
surrounding NVA positions. 9 

The Battle for Quang Tri City 

By 7 July, the Airborne Division, in its offensive to 
the west, was trying to keep abreast of the Marines to 
its right and had reached positions just south of Quang 
Tri City and the Vinh Dinh River. The airborne troops 
had run head-on into a strongly entrenched enemy 

**fbt his actions Corporal Parton was awarded a posthumous Silver 
Star Medal. 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) 13030 
Supporting arms fire was effectively controlled by air- 
borne Air Force and ANGLICO controllers from a var- 
iety of aircraft, A North American Rockwell OV-10 
Bronco turns over the Gulf of Tonkin, flying Just off 
shore to avoid the Communist antiaircraft fire. 

force determined to hold the city. By 10 July, the for- 
ward units of the VNMC 1st, 3d, 5th, 7th, and 8th 
Battalions were on a line that ran generally from the 
bend in Route 555 as it turned west toward Quang 
Tri City, eastward to the coast. With the ARVN Air- 
borne Division stalled on the outskirts of the city, 
General Lan was reluctant to expose an unprotected 
flank as his division continued northward. 10 To break 
the impasse, Lan decided to move one battalion by 
helicopter across the Vinh Dinh River to a position 
just northeast of the city while two battalions would 
assault enemy positions from east to west. The mis- 
sion of the Marines was to block Route 560 and to pre- 
vent the enemy from resupplying his forces in the city 

Supporting fires for the helicopter move began at 
0600, 11 July, and the final Arc Light hit 15 minutes 

prior to the landing at approximately 1200, "L-Hour." 

South Vietnamese forces reached the outskirts of Quang Tri City by early July 1972. By 
then the preceding fighting had reduced the city to rubble, as in this view of the moat 
and walls of the Citadel. This worked in favor of the Communist defenders by providing 
them defensive positions from which to hold off the attacking Vietnamese Marine units. 

North Vietnamese Army Photo 




Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800662 
The Vietnamese Marine Division initially moved to cut off Quang Tri City from rein- 
forcements with continued American support. At the division command post at Huong 
Dien, operations were briefed to the amphibious forces by the FRAC G-3, with LtCol 
Gerald H. Turley holding the map. At the right rear is an air photograph of the Citadel. 

Thirty-four American helicopters from HMM-164 off 
the Okinawa and HMM-165 off the Tripoli carried 840 
Marines of the 1st VNMC Battalion with 12,000 
pounds of ammunition and rations into the attack. 
Six U.S. Army air cavalry gunships led the troop-laden 
helicopters into Landing Zones Blue Jay and Crow, 
2,000 meters north of Quang Tri City. The six hours 
of heavy preparatory fires had not blunted the ene- 
my's ability to fight. 

Throughout the eight-mile flight to the objective, 
SA-7 surface-to-air missile firings caused the helicop- 
ters to fly the contour of the earth at the highest pos- 
sible speed. Within 10 minutes of landing the 
helicopters had disembarked the Vietnamese and had 
lifted off. One pilot had been surprised when he land- 
ed practically on top of a NVA T-54 tank. Quick reac- 
tion by a Bell AH-1 Cobra gunship knocked out the 
tank with a TOW antitank missile before it could 
respond. Another helicopter had landed on top of a 
NVA command post. Twenty-eight of the helicopters 
entering the landing zones were hit by small arms fire. 
In spite of evasive flying, one CH-53 carrying 55 Viet- 
namese Marines was hit by a SA-7, burst into flames, 

and went down with heavy loss of life. Five U.S. Ma- 
rine crewmen of a downed CH-46 were extracted from 
the zone by U.S. Army crews of Troop F, 4th Air Caval- 
ry, who braved antiaircraft fire to effect the rescue. Five 
of the Army's six helicopters were shot up during the 
assault." Losses by the 9th MAB were a CH-53 and 
two CH-46s (both recovered), two Marines killed, and 
seven wounded. The four survivors from the CH-53 
Sea Stallion were recovered later. 

The U.S. CH-53 carried 50 Vietnamese Marines, an 
American crew of five, and a combat photographer 
from BIT 1/9. It was struck on its approach to the land- 
ing zone while 100 feet above the ground. The deto- 
nation of the SA-7's 5.5 pound warhead in the 
helicopter's right power plant sent engine-turbine frag- 
ments down and forward into the passenger compart- 
ment. The pilot autorotated the flaming aircraft to 
the ground in a hopeful, controlled "crash and burn" 
procedure. Two crewmembers were killed outright and 
a third seriously injured. Of the Vietnamese Marines 
on board, most were killed, with only seven return- 
ing to friendly lines. The helicopter was completely 
destroyed by fire and the detonation of ammunition 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800682 
Helicopters from the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade were used to place Vietnamese 
Marines in position around Quang Tri City on 11 July 1972, Here HMM-165 aircraft from 
the USS Tripoli arrive to pick up Marines of the 1st VNMC Battalion behind friendly lines. 

carried by the Vietnamese. The surviving Americans 
took shelter in a nearby bomb crater and "hunkered- 
down" as the wreckage cooled and NVA soldiers poked 
through the remains. At dusk a VNMC patrol locat- 
ed them and brought them to friendly lines and 
American Army helicopters returned them to their 
ship. 12 

Despite the helicopter losses and damage, the 
American-supported Vietnamese attack had been ex- 
ecuted with precision and superb coordination. Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Gerald Turky commented, "The 
execution was beautiful; lift off, staging, coordination, 
control, communications, prep fires— everything went 
on schedule — never looked more beautiful." Since the 
beginning of July, with the arrival of Lieutenant 
Colonel Walter D. Fillmore as the new assistant Ma- 
rine advisor. Lieutenant Colonel Turley concentrated 
on the recapture of Quang Tri City as the G-3 advisor 
to the Vietnamese Marine Division. 13 

The 1st VNMC Battalion, commanded by Major 
Nguyen Dang Hoa, encountered heavy fire while dis- 
embarking in the landing zone and the Marines im- 

mediately began taking casualties as they engaged 
elements of the 320B NVA Division? After landing 
and consolidating, Major Hoa personally led his men 
against the dug-in enemy. Two trench lines had to be 
overrun before the landing zone perimeter was secure. 
Despite severe losses, the Marines fought off the ene- 
my and expanded their positions. By consolidating and 
defending the landing zones, the South Vietnamese 
killed 126 Communists, captured six, secured large 
quantities of material, and flanked the NVA position. 14 

The naval gunfire spot team officer, First Lieutenant 
Stephen G. Biddulph, was hit in the legs shortly af- 
ter leaving his helicopter. Captain Lawrence H. Living- 
ston, the 1st VNMC Battalion advisor, moved through 
intense small arms fire to carry the wounded lieutenant 
to safety. He "came sliding in beside me like a man 
stealing second base," recalled Biddulph. 15 At the same 
time, Corporal Jose F. Hernandez of ANGLICO braved 
enemy fire and helped wounded Vietnamese Marines 

*320B NVA Division: 4Sth Infantry Regtment (only element en- 
countered); 52d Infantry Regiment; and 64th Infantry Regiment. 





Marine Advisory Unit Phoro 
Air photographs were used in the planning of operations by the allied forces. This shows 
one of the landing zones in which very heavy resistance was met on 11 July 1972. The 
annotations were keyed to suspected enemy dispositions and weapons emplacements. 

find protection in a nearby depression. He then called 

in naval gunfire in an attempt to halt onrushing NVA 
reinforcements. The wounded Vietnamese and Ameri- 
can Marines, although requiring urgent medical at- 
tention, could not be evacuated as the enemy kept the 
landing zones saturated with artillery, mortar, and an- 
tiaircraft fire. 

Despite the expansion of the perimeter, the Marines 
were still in a tenuous position as heavy fire continued 
to come from one of the initial objectives, an enemy 
trench network in a tree line approximately 50 meters 
away. Captain Livingston formed the Vietnamese Ma- 
rines into an assault force. Although knocked off his 
feet by an exploding round in the early stage of the 
assault, Livingston led the casualty-riddled force to the 
edge of the trench fortifications. The enemy soldiers 
rushed out and engaged the Marines hand-to-hand, 

but were defeated in the savage fight. After seizing 
the objective, Livingston moved back under fire to en- 
sure that the wounded Lieutenant Biddulph, whom 
he had earlier pulled from danger, was still safe* 
Fighting continued for nearly three days in the 1st 
VNMC Battalion's area. Not only did the Marines seize 
and hold their initial objectives, but in doing so they 
also forced the NVA to withdraw to the west, toward 
Quang Tri City. During this same three-day period, 
the 7th VNMC Battalion, as it moved against the ene- 
my, overran an armored regiment's command post. 
The action resulted in numerous enemy tracked vehi- 
cles and trucks being destroyed or captured. 
Realizing the need to resupply— particularly 

*For his actions, Captain Livingston was awarded the Navy Cross; 
Firsr Lieutenant Biddulph and Corporal Hernandez received Silver 
Star Medals, 


North Vietnamese Army Photo 

North Vietnamese Army defenses were in strength around Quang Tri City. This 12. 7mm 
DShK 38/46 heavy machine gun is operated in the antiaircraft mode. The assistant gun- 
ner in the middle is operating the mechanical tracking device used to lead flying aircraft. 

ammunition— the Marines in their extended position, 
General Cooksey requested that Seventh Fleet Com- 
mander Vice Admiral James L. Holloway III provide 
a five-section causeway pier at Wunder Beach, now un- 
der South Vietnamese control. The pier provided a 
much-needed alternative line of communication to the 
battered QL-1 and other constricted coastal routes. 
Seventh Fleet furnished the USS Alamo (LSD 33), an 
underwater demolition team, and a tugboat for sup- 
port. On the morning of 13 July, naval construction 
personnel, "Seabees," began installation. By 1300 they 
had completed the job. Once the causeway was rigged 
and operating, U.S. Marine shore party and naval 
beachmaster personnel went ashore to instruct and su- 
pervise the Vietnamese units responsible for beach 
operations. 16 

By 14 July, the Vietnamese had cut the enemy's 
main supply route, Route 560, into Quang Tri City 
resulting in diminished fighting. Only then could the 
first "medevac" helicopters clear the wounded from 
the combat area. 17 Among those flown to Hue City 

by the Army aircraft was ANGLICO's Lieutenant Bid- 
dulph, who "lay on the floor near the left hatch with 
my Ml6 rifle stuck out the door to the ready." He 
remembered, "A litter patient lay squarely across my 
wounded legs and I held another patient around the 
body to prevent him from falling out .... we still 
had to make it over the heads of the enemy to get 
back." 19 

On 17 July, the Marine Advisory Unit received need- 
ed replacements when nine officers from the 1st Ma- 
rine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, arrived 
in Saigon. By the middle of July, the VNMC was at 
its peak combat strength and its prestige was such that 
volunteers had to be turned away. By 20 July, the 
VNMC Division had consolidated its positions north- 
east of Quang Tri City as the Airborne Division con- 
tinued its efforts to take the city. Heavy fighting was 
continuous, but little progress could be made beyond 
the city's outskirts. The NVA commented "the liber- 
ation forces again hashed up its best" forces. 19 

Bar General Truong, the determination of the NVA 



to hold Quang Tri City at alJ costs caused problems. 
He recalled that although the city had not been a 
primary objective, "it had become a symbol and a 
major challenge." 20 In response to questions from 
South Vietnam's President Thieu, General Cooksey 
observed that General Huong "played a crucial role, 
both in planning and execution in the battle of the 
Citadel." 21 

Realizing that the NVA were concentrating on 
defending the Citadel of Quang Tri, the Marines 
seized the opportunity to exploit enemy weakness 
along the coast by enveloping his left flank and sever- 
ing his lines of communication south of the Cua Viet 
River. General Lan assigned this task to VNMC 
Brigade 147, with three battalions. The plan called 
for two battalions supported by tanks to attack north 
from their positions and link up with a third battal- 
ion that would be landed by helicopter approximate- 
ly four kilometers to the north. After joining, all three 
battalions would attack to the southeast, seizing a crit- 

ical road junction. This would either drive the enemy 
across the Thach Han River or force him north toward 
the Cua Viet River. 

On 22 July, the amphibious task force's USS Okina- 
wa, St. Louts (LKA 116), Manitowoc (LST 1180), and 
Point Defiance (LSD 31) moved into position to launch 
Lieutenant Colonel Hertberg's helicopters. The USS 
Denver also was assigned to provide deck space. Air, 
artillery, and naval gunfire softened the enemy posi- 
tion for three and a half hours. Arc Lights struck the 
landing zones just prior to HMM-l64's arrival. The 5th 
VNMC Battalion assaulted with two waves totaling 688 
men. Gunship escorts of Troop F shot-up both zones, 
reporting enemy fire from Landing Zone Lima, but 
none from Victor. Landing occurred at 0938 in Lima 
and at 1004 in Victor with initial objectives secured; 
the supporting arms plan had worked well. With 
moderate contact in the landing zones, the 5th VNMC 
Battalion moved out rapidly and linked up with the 
two surface assault battalions. The 2d VNMC Battal- 

Byjuly 1972, the Marine Division was assigned the mission to take the city back from 
the Communists. These Vietnamese Marines and their advisors were trying to avoid draw- 
ing artillery fire using an MH3 armored personnel carrier as a mobile command post. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800761 



Vietnamese Marine Corps Photo 
Heavy fighting took place at the walls of the Citadel as massive artillery duels occurred. 
Despite serious losses, the Communists held onto the position through August 1972. 

ion, however, ran into stiff resistance as it maneuvered 
to cut the enemy's supply route along Route 560. U.S. 
close air strikes hit the NVA bunkers, enabling the Ma- 
rine battalion to move through the fortified area and 
complete the link-up. Once consolidated, the brigade 
secured its initial objective against relatively light op- 
position. Throughout the remainder of the two-day 
operation, enemy contact was light to moderate. The 
operation ended on 24 July. It netted 133 Communist 
soldiers killed, three enemy tanks destroyed and two 
armored command vehicles captured, a 100-bed hospi- 
tal overun, and numerous weapons captured or des- 
troyed. No losses were sustained by the supporting 
American Marines. 

By the end of July it was apparent that the Airborne 
Division, its combat effectiveness weakened by previ- 
ous battles in the Central Highlands, could not over- 
come the hardcore NVA defenders of the Quang Tri 
Citadel. The paratroopers, although only 200 meters 
from the Citadel's wall, stood down as the Marine Di- 
vision was given this mission. Lieutenant Colonel 
Turley briefed the advisors that changes would be re- 
quired in the type of operations needed to attack and 
destroy the enemy entrenched in the city itself. 22 

During darkness on 27 July, VNMC Brigade 258 
relieved the ARVN airborne troops in place. The next 
four days saw heavy ground contact and massive ar- 
tillery duels between the Marines and the NVA. The 
enemy fired more than 1,000 mortar and artillery 
rounds daily against the Marines, who responded in 
kind. Captain David D. Harris, an advisor with VNMC 
Brigade 147, had to be evacuated to the United States 
with severe leg and back wounds. Killed alongside him 
was ANGLICO's First Lieutenant Edward G. Hayen II. 

The Communists were defending the city with the 
325th NVA Division, reinforced by elements of the 
308th, and 320B NVA Divisions and supporting forces 
in southeastern Quang Tri and Thua Thien Provinces* 
During the month ofjuly, these units had paid a heavy 
price for their persistence in holding on to Quang Tri 
City: more than 1,880 enemy dead and the capture 
or destruction of 51 armored vehicles, 7 antiaircraft 
guns, 4 artillery pieces, a 20-ton ammunition dump, 
and 1,200 individual weapons. 23 In other areas of MR 

*Enemy order of battle was based on a number of sources in MR 
1. Most timely were the VNMC units in contact, as verified by FRAC 
and the military intelligence chain. 





1 there were continued concerns about NVA threats 
from the west, as Que Son and FSB Ross in August 
were hit by 130mm guns and ground attacks by the 
711th NVA Division* This threat to Da Nang would 
continue through the following month. 24 

As August 1972 began, most of Quang Tri City re- 
mained in Communist hands. The territory north and 
west of the Thach Han River, particularly around the 
Ai Tu combat base, was dotted with NVA artillery 
units. 25 The enemy maintained a seemingly ceaseless 
artillery and mortar barrage on the South Vietnamese, 
who now burrowed into the ground "like gophers." 26 
This was a busy time for Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLI- 
CO. Lieutenant Colonel George E. "Ed" Jones, com- 
manding Sub Unit One since the previous month, 
recalled that in addition to controlling naval gunfire 
and air strikes, ANGLICO radios and operators provid- 
ed an extensive and "very solid backup system for the 
operational South Vietnamese units as well as the U.S. 
Marine and U.S. Army Advisors." 27 Air observers from 
ANGLICO continued "dawn to dusk" coverage from 
American and Vietnamese Air Force aircraft, provid- 
ing the primary "eyes" over areas considered no-man's 

The brigades of the Marine Division were well 
placed to deny the enemy resupply and to make a fi- 
nal lunge into the heart of the city, the Citadel, but 
were held off by the well-concealed defenders. Ene- 
my fire and the congestion of friendly units in the area 
severely hampered maneuver by the Marines. Marine 
Brigade 147, operating northeast of Quang Tri City, 
began receiving heavy pressure from the enemy, but 
had thwarted several attempts by the numerically su- 
perior enemy to reopen Route 560 northeast of the 
city. The Marines' supply blockade began to take its 
toll on the NVA's ammunition stockpiles. All enemy 
supplies making their way into the city had to be fer- 
ried across the Thach Han River. 28 

To the south, VNMC Brigade 258, with four maneu- 
ver battalions under its operational control, was in 
heavy house-to-house fighting around the Citadel. 
The 3d VNMC Battalion attacked from the northeast, 
with the 6th and 9th VNMC Battalions closing in from 
the southwest. Each day, VNMC Brigade 258 moved 
slowly forward, tightening its grasp on the enemy 
forces still in the Citadel. This slow progress made 
General Lan realize that he would have to reinforce 
his maneuver forces if they were to overpower the three 

*711tb NVA Division: 31st Infantry Regiment; 38th Infantry Regi- 
ment; and 270th Infantry Regiment. 

NVA regiments holding the Citadel.** Lan continued 
to keep VNMC Brigade 369 in division reserve. 29 
Taking the Citadel 

On 22 August, an unusual and significant contact 
was made by the 8th VNMC Battalion as it confront- 
ed a sizable enemy force attempting to break out from 
the Citadel. Preceding the attack, the enemy artillery 
provided a curtain of fire. The NVA infantry advanced 
behind the cover of tanks. The Marines, surprised at 
such an action, quickly rallied and drove the NVA back 
into the Citadel. During the remainder of the month, 
the desperate enemy increased the number of his night 
attacks in an effort to rupture the tight circle the Ma- 
rines had drawn. By this time in the invasion and the 
Lam Son counteroffensive, the VNMC had suffered 
1,358 men killed and 5,522 wounded. The Corps es- 
timated that it had killed 10,285 Communists dur- 
ing this same five-month period. 30 

As September began, Marine units had been in 
constant street fighting inside the city for 35 days un- 
der some of th e heaviest enemy artillery shelling since 
the invasion in March. The forward maneuver battal- 
ions had been under daily counterattacks by enemy 
units of the 508th NVA Division. In the city, the 
VNMC 1st, 3d, 5th, 6th, and 8th Battalions attacked 
through the rubble to reach the Citadel and the QL-1 
highway bridge over the Thach Han River. 

On 5 September, Major Richard B. Rothwell, with 
the 5th VNMC Battalion, personally helped to blunt 
a local counterattack by the enemy from inside the 
Citadel. As the enemy attacked the 5th VNMC Bat- 
talion's command post just at dusk, Rothwell rushed 
to a balcony on the second floor of a building to gain 
a better view of the enemy disposition. Although 
wounded in both the head and face from an explod- 
ing mortar round, he called for supporting fire. 
Despite his painful wounds, he kept calling and ad- 
justing artillery fire and directing air strikes. At 2130 
the enemy withdrew in confusion having left behind 
more than 50 individual and crew-served weapons.*** 

A battalion from VNMC Brigade 147 had taken up 
positions at the An Tiem Bridge where Route 560 
crossed the Vinh Dinh River. All enemy supply and 
infiltration routes and lines of communication to the 
north were effectively blocked. The Communists were 
feeling the bite of supply and ammunition shortages. 

**It was determined later that the NVA rotated units in and out 
of Quang Tri City to maintain fresh defenders. 

***For his actions Major Rothwell was awarded the Bronze Star 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800644 
On 7 September 1972, BGen Edward J. Miller of the 9th MAB and Col Nhon of the 
ARVN Rangers inspect a unit at the Tan My naval base prior to loading them on assault 
ships for an amphibious demonstration. These troops were part of the successful maneuver. 

HMM-165 helicopters from the USS Tripoli turn back 3,000 yards from the coast in a 
simulated assault. Surface forces turned back at the same time. Both South Vietnamese and 
American Marines were transported so as to give every indication of an authentic landing. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800692 



On 8 September, the three battalions of the 1st Ranger 
Group relieved VNMC Brigade 147 of its blocking mis- 
sion north of the city. General Lan now had two 
brigades he could commit in the pincer movement 
which would begin the aJl-out assault on the city. Ma- 
rine Brigade 258 continued its attack along the 
southern front with four battalions while VNMC 
Brigade 147 attacked from the northeast with the 3d 
and 7th VNMC Battalions. 31 

Generals Truong and Lan also requested an am- 
phibious diversion by the U.S. Seventh Fleet to draw 
the enemy away from the Vietnamese Marines attack- 
ing the Citadel. The U.S. amphibious forces agreed 
to carry out the feint, except for an actual landing. 
Virtually all aspects of an assault were conducted, in- 
cluding an operation order, increased radio traffic, and 
covert missions which discreetly left evidence in the 
vicinity of the selected landing beaches. The USS 
Juneau (LPD 10) loaded 400 ARVN Rangers from Tan 
My for the supposed surface assault. 

The Final Assault 
On 9 September, the final assault on Quang Tri City 
began with intensive artillery fire and air strikes on 
the Citadel. On the same day, Task Force 76 and the 
9th MAB carried out the amphibious diversion north 
of the Cua Viet River. As the Vietnamese Marines 
launched their attack to recapture Quang Tri City, a 
B-52 strike, naval gunfire, and tactical air opened up 
in the diversionary objective area. 32 The 9th MAB saw 
the heaviest volume of supporting arms fire yet, which 
reached a peak at H-Hour minus 3 through H-Hour. 
Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Kirby, observing from 
the primary control ship, remembered that the "fire- 
power brought to bear on that beach was enormous." 33 
As these fires ceased, B-52s bombed the landing 
beaches while the task force concentrated for the land- 
ing. Surface and helicopter forces approached their 
turnarounds as naval gunfire stopped. Surface forces 
turned back at 10,000 yards and the helicopters of 
HMM-165 at 5,000 yards. Upon retiring from the 

Early 11 September 1972, Vietnamese Marines succeeded in gaining the top of the Citadel's 
wall and continued to push in more men. The rubble of the 18th-century walls proved 
a major obstacle to anything except infantry movement and continued small unit action. 

Vietnamese Marine Corps Photo 



Marine Advisory Unit Command Chronology 
The Quang Tri battlefield as recorded on the Marine advisors' situation map of 16 Sep- 
tember 1972. The top of this special map is north and the numbered grids are 1,000 
meters across. Annotations include unit boundary lines (ND for Airborne, TQDO for Ma- 
rines, BDQ for Rangers). Unit headquarters are shown by the stylized flags, and company- 
sized units by the numbered circles. The numbers indicate signifcant events. 



Photo courtesy of Col Donald L. Price, USMC 
Members of the 6th VNMC Battalion raised their nation 's flag over the west gate of the 
Citadel. For the South Vietnamese and their Marines this was a proud moment of victory. 



beach the amphibious forces returned to holding areas 
and the Rangers returned to Tan My.. 

The NVA reacted by hastily shifting major forces 
and artillery north of the Cua Viet River to counter 
this apparent amphibious assault, thus markedly 
reducing the level of artillery and antiaircraft fires at 
Quang Tri City. The diversionary action enabled the 
Marine Division to advance rapidly. An additional bo- 
nus to the deception became evident immediately fol- 
lowing the B-52 strikes. As the bombers departed, the 
NVA emerged from the tree line to defend against the 
anticipated assault from the sea. Naval gunfire inflict- 
ed casualties on these troops in the open. 34 

At Quang Tri City an imaginary line drawn across 
the middle of the Citadel became the boundary be- 
tween the two Marine brigades. VNMC Brigade 258 
continued its attack in the southern portion while 
VNMC Brigade 147 attacked in the northern half. The 
3d VNMC Battalion, now attached to VNMC Brigade 
147 and closest to the northern wall of the Citadel, 
stood fast while the 7th VNMC Battalion deployed 
to its north. Near the southeast corner of the Citadel, 
Lieutenant Colonel Do Huu Tung, commanding 
officer of the 6th VNMC Battalion with VNMC 
Brigade 258, set up a forward command post and 
moved within striking distance of the 18th-century 
walls of the Citadel, which were 30 inches thick and 
15 feet high. A lot of this wall had already been 
reduced to rubble, but unsurprisingly much of it still 
stood. Progress toward the wall was slow because the 
enemy had tunnelled an intricate and interlocking 
defensive system throughout the entire fortress. On 
the night of 9 September, a squad of Marines from 
the 6th VNMC Battalion managed to slip in and out 
of the Citadel. 

At 2100 on 10 September, Lieutenant Colonel Tung 
launched a night attack against the enemy on the 
southeast corner and was successful in gaining a lodge- 
ment on top of the wall. Early on 11 September, a pla- 
toon moved over this section of the wall, and in spite 
of stubborn enemy resistance, expanded to occupy a 
company-sized position within a few hours. 

While the fighting for the Citadel was going on, 
the 1st VNMC Battalion had secured the bridgehead 
where QL-1 crossed the Thach Han River and held it 

despite several fierce NVA counterattacks. From 11 to 
15 September, the 2d VNMC Battalion reached the 
Thach Han River, closing the gap between the 1st and 
6th VNMC Battalions. The VNMC 3d and 7th Bat- 
talions fought their way through the northern part of 
the city and reached the fortress wall on the morning 
of 15 September. At 1015 that same day, the 3d VNMC 
Battalion entered the north side of the Citadel. That 
afternoon the enemy stiffened his resistance and called 
in a massive artillery barrage to stop the 3d and 6th 
VNMC Battalions as they advanced toward the west 
wall. By 1700 on 15 September, the Marines had 
gained complete control of the Citadel. 

The NVA withdrew, stating that with "modern tech- 
nology and weapons and a maximum of firepower, the 
U.S. had schemed to level this area and turn Quang 
Tri town into a land of death with no place for the 
revolutionary forces." 35 At 1245 the next day, the red 
and yellow flag of the Republic of South Vietnam was 
raised over the city's west gate by members of the 6th 
VNMC Battalion. The ceremony marked the end of 
138 days of NVA occupation of Quang Tri City. 

President Nguyen Van Thieu visited the frontline 
positions of the Vietnamese Marine Division on 20 
September to congratulate General Lan and the 
officers and men of the Vietnamese Marine Corps. The 
President then flew by helicopter to the command post 
of VNMC Brigade 147, after which he drove to the 
6th VNMC Battalion's command post. There he per- 
sonally congratulated Lieutenant Colonel Tung and 
his Marines on their success inside the Citadel. The 
recapture of Quang Tri was probably the most signifi- 
cant South Vietnamese victory of the spring inva- 
sion.* 36 During the seven-week battle to recapture 
Quang Tri City, the VNMC had suffered 3,658 casual- 
ties of the more than 5,000 casualties sustained since 
June 1972 — about 25 percent of the entire Corps.** 37 
The Vietnamese Marine Division, with its victory at 
Quang Tri City, had come of age as a fighting unit 38 

"This prompted General Cooksey, the FRAC commander, to 
recommend the Vietnamese Marine Division for a United States 
Presidential Unit Citation. 

**Edwin W. Besch, in Saigon, observed later that an "Inchon- 
style" landing in North Vietnam by Vietnamese or American forces 
might have been less costly. 


Returning North 

Consolidation— Push to the North —Reorganization— The Eleventh Hour— Ceasefire 


On 25 September 1972, VNMC Brigade 369 opened 
a new command post at Hai Lang Village and assumed 
operational control of the battalions at Quang Tri City, 
and VNMC Brigade 147 assumed defensive positions 
along the coast and on the division's right flank. 
VNMC Brigade 258 reverted to division reserve. Major 
Gordon W. Keiser took over as senior advisor for 
Brigade 258 from Major Robert D. Kelly. 1 For the 
Americans of ANGLICO and the advisors there was 
a sense of accomplishment. For the South Vietnamese, 
however, the battle was far from over. 

The Vietnamese Marine Division had used tactical 
air almost daily since the NVA invasion in March 1972. 
Between June and September, there had been 3,381 
American and 775 Vietnamese air tactical sorties, and 
525 B-52 strikes flown in support of the VNMC. From 
26 to 28 September, 18 VNMC officers, two from each 
of the infantry battalions, underwent instruction in 
close air support and naval gunfire spotter techniques, 
followed by an immediate practical application with 

U.S. Marine advisors. Most of the Vietnamese officers 
became competent in coordinating U.S. air strikes 
through an airborne FAC and controlling naval gun- 
fire. This added capability further reduced the neces- 
sity for ANGLICO and advisor involvement in the 
control of U.S. supporting arms. 2 

With the capture of the Quang Tri Citadel and the 
establishment of Marine blocking positions at the ap- 
proaches to the city, the VNMC Marine Division, with 
its forward headquarters at Huong Dien, was in a po- 
sition to push north. General Lan was anxious to re- 
occupy all of the territory lost during the NVA invasion 
prior to any kind of ceasefire negotiations. Since the 
beginning of the Easter Invasion, when President Nix- 
on outlined the conditions for such a ceasefire, Presi- 
dent Thieu had been concerned that all lost South 
Vietnamese ground be regained prior to an in-place 
settlement. Enemy activity had dropped sharply after 
the taking of Quang Tri City, but it was evident that 
the NVA was still present in strength just outside the 
city. Identification of a unit from the 112tb NVA Di- 

South Vietnamese Marines move into the ruins of the Citadel after the Communists were 
driven out. Both the Marines and the living conditions show the effect of previous fighting, 

Vietnamese Marine Corps Photo 




Government of Vietnam Photo 
Firepower from both sides reduced Quang Tri City to a uniform level of destruction. This 
is the view along Quang Trung Street after the South Vietnamese retook the city. 

vision raised the enemy presence to six divisions in 
Quang Tri Province, as reported by the 1st Regional 
Assistance Command* The enemy artillery fire from 
the northwest which daily showered Vietnamese Ma- 
rine positions occasionally was followed by nighttime 
probing attacks. 3 

Heavy monsoon rains began to fall in October and 
would continue until the end of December. The area 
to the east of the city was low-lying coastal marshlands, 
threaded with rivers, and was difficult enough to cross 
in good weather. The torrential rains would make pas- 
sage impossible in some areas. Experience had shown 
that during the monsoon a 200-meter-wide river could 
become a two-kilometer-wide bay overnight, a vital 
consideration when moving armor, artillery, and foot 
troops. With growing concern about the peace negoti- 
ations in Paris, General Lan recommended that an at- 
tempt to take the offensive should be made immedi- 
ately, taking advantage of the lull in enemy operations 
and the continued presence of 9th MAB support. 
Route 560, north of Quang Hi, was the only improved 
line of communications east of QL-1 leading to the 

*H2th NVA Division: 141st Infantry Regiment; 16>tb Infantry 
Regiment (only element encountered); and 209th Infantry 

Cua Viet River. This was the obvious axis of attack and 
Lan hoped to move north by some other route and 
to do so before the monsoon restricted his options. 
He ordered Colonel Nguyen Nang Bao's VNMC 
Brigade 147 to attack north along Route 560 to push 
the enemy beyond mortar range of Quang Tri City and 
to capture Trien Phong District Headquarters. Accom- 
plishment of this mission would also serve to cut a 
major NVA supply line. 4 

On 7 October, prior to H-Hour, the division's fire 
support coordination center arranged for heavy ar- 
tillery, naval gunfire, and close ait support. General 
Cooksey's headquarters in Hue coordinated the 
American fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. U S. 
Army helicopters provided armed reconnaissance for- 
ward of the axis of attack and eastward to the beach. 
Flights were composed of two U.S. Army light obser- 
vation helicopters with ANGLICO air observers on 
board, providing excellent naval gunfire coverage on 
targets up to 5,000 meters inland. This capability was 
particularly valuable during inclement weather when 
aircraft could not operate because of limited visibility. 

Push to the North 
At H-Hour, the 8th VNMC Battalion moved out in 



Depattment of Defense Photo (USMC) A800744 
Marines of the 9th Battalion consolidate their gains. Here a TOW antitank missile team 
installs a launcher. At right, LtCol Nguyen Kim De, the battalion commander, and Maj 
Paul L. Carlson, an advisor, supervise the emplacement of this weapons system. 

the attack under difficult circumstances along Route 
560. The highway tan through a marshland between 
the Thach Han River and the Vinh Dinh River, where 
thick groves of bamboo and hedgerows permitted ene- 
my snipers to fire point-blank at the advancing Ma- 
rines. The attack continued for three days against 
heavy enemy resistance. On 10 October, with the front 
lines extended the desired distance, Colonel Bao, com- 
mander of Brigade 147, moved his other three battal- 
ions on line and awaited further orders. The operation 
had resulted in 111 enemy killed and 55 weapons 

On 20 October, General Lan ordered Bao to con- 
duct a second operation along the eastern flank of the 
brigade front. The attack, conducted by the 9th 
VNMC Battalion supported by armor, was designed 
to extend the friendly lines north toward the Cua Viet 
River. The river was critical to the defense of Quang 
Tri City; whoever controlled the Cua Viet controlled 
the economic lifeline of Quang Tri Province. The river 
also was sufficiently deep and wide to accommodate 
landing craft inland all the way to Dong Ha and into 

Quang Tri City itself. It was essential that this artery 
be in South Vietnamese hands prior to any settlement. 

The 9th VNMC Battalion encountered stiff 
resistance as ii: moved north. The eastern portion of 
the two-pronged attack reached its objectives, but the 
western portion was held up by a heavy 122mm rock- 
et attack. U.S. Army armed helicopter "Pink Teams" 
were called in to suppress the rocket positions. Cap- 
tain George Philip III, a U.S. Marine advisor flying 
in the command and control helicopter, served as the 
liaison between the VNMC units on the ground and 
these American helicopters. With the fire suppressed, 
the western prong moved on line with the eastern force 
on an axis about six kilometers from the Cua Viet 
River, still short of its south bank. 5 

VNMC Brigade 369, commanded by Lieutenant 
Colonel Nguyen The Luong, held the western portion 
of the division front against an enemy attack the first 
week in October, but the remainder of the month was 
relatively quiet with the exception of daily enemy 
bombardments. The brigade conducted limited 
patrolling to its front and meanwhile improved defen- 



sive positions in Quang Tri City. During the month 
several reconnaissance patrols crossed the Thach Han 
River to try to determine the enemy's intentions. 
VNMC Brigade 258, with Colonel Ngo Van Dinh in 
command, remained the division reserve. By October's 
end, the Marine front lines had stabilized along a line 
that could permit subsequent efforts to establish a 
foothold on the Cua Viet outlet to the sea. Morale 
and discipline remained high for all VNMC units as 
they improved positions and replacements filled the 
depleted ranks. 


Due to the preponderant number of recent recruits 
who had reported to MR 1 to fill the ranks of his bat- 
talions, General Lan directed that, commensurate with 
military operations, all elements of the division under- 
go troop inspections. Battalions rotated out of the line 
and positioned themselves on the hard sandy beaches 
near Wunder Beach. The U.S. Marine advisors were 
amazed at the detailed inspections conducted. Inspect- 

Advisors required material and maintenance support 
for the period of Vietnamization. Maj William R. 
Hart, an artillery advisor, and Maj Joseph J. O'Brien, 
an infantry advisor, confer amid the battle 's aftermath. 

Photo courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine 

ing officers meticulously went over each item of equip- 
ment laid out in parade-ground fashion on the beach. 
Individual weapons were inspected by these officers 
with the thoroughness of drill instructors. Basic skills 
and knowledge were demonstrated in an area which 
was only four miles behind the front lines. 

On 1 November, orders came from Saigon for the 
Marines to cross the Thach Han River west of Quang 
Tri in an effort to expand the division's area of con- 
trol. Under the cover of early morning darkness, 
VNMC Brigade 369 sent 600 Marines led by the 6th 
VNMC Battalion across the Thach Han River directly 
opposite the Citadel. The crossing, using sampans, 
small boats, and barges, was not without difficulties. 
Some of the Marines drowned as sampans overturned 
and guide ropes broke. By dawn on 2 November, 
however, nearly 200 Marines were established on the 
western side, followed shortly by 200 more. As the Ma- 
rines moved inland they were vigorously opposed by 
the enemy. The forward elements bogged down 500 
meters from the river line in the face of heavy enemy 
automatic weapons and mortar fire. The NVA coun- 
terattacked the Marine foothold with a regiment sup- 
ported by mortars and artillery. The massive 
counterattack reflected the enemy's firm intention to 
maintain positions west of Quang Tri City and to deny 
the southern forces access to the Ai Tu area, Later in 
the day, as the Marines moved north along QL-1, be- 
tween a small canal and the Thach Han River, they 
came under intense small arms fire from concealment 
in the dense foliage. All of the company commanders 
were killed and more than 40 Marines were reported 
missing. Despite the employment of every available 
supporting arm, the Marines could not make head- 
way. During the hours of darkness of 2-3 November, 
the 6th VNMC Battalion withdrew east of the Thach 
Han River, leaving only a reconnaissance team on the 
west bank. The 6th VNMC Battalion operation was 
the Marines' last effort to cross the Thach Han River 
prior to the ceasefire in January 1973. 6 

The Eleventh Hour 

On 11 November, the day after the U.S. Marines 
had celebrated their 197th birthday, the VNMC be- 
gan an operation to extend its control to the north- 
west. As Lieutenant Colonel Tran Xuan Quang's 4th 
VNMC Battalion attacked, it was stopped by intense 
artillery and mortar fire and localized ground coun- 
terattacks. The NVA appeared determined that the 
Marines would not reach the Cua Viet River. In spite 
of severe resupply problems, the NVA expended five 



times more ordnance during November than it had 
in October. 7 

The monsoon rains curtailed both enemy and 
friendly movement. Transporting supplies was difficult 
for both sides, and living conditions were equally op- 
pressive. The two sides could see each other occasion- 
ally, but neither seemed inclined to fire; they shared 
a miserable lot. Routes previously used to resupply 
were flooded. Route 555 itself was nearly obliterated 
by rising water and rendered unusable. 8 

The Communists expended every effort to keep for- 
ward units close to the Marine positions and thus 
hopefully to make tactical air and naval gunfire sup- 
port impossible. On one occasion, however, the tactic 
did not work. A B-52 strike was conducted in support 
of the 4th VNMC Battalion which was operating just 
south of the Cua Viet River near the beach. Six promi- 
nent hill masses were the only logical positions for the 
enemy to occupy, above the flooded lowlands. Previ- 
ously, B-52s had dropped their bombs with such 
devastating effect that it was unnecessary to rebomb 
the same position. On this occasion, however, three 
of the six hill masses were programmed for addition- 
al strikes six minutes after the first. As the second flight 

Photo courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine 
Reorganization and consolidation was translated to im- 
proving living conditions and personal appearance at 
the unit level. In contrast to previous conditions, these 
two 369th Brigade Marines are in front of an impro- 
vised living space constructed from ammunition boxes. 

Retraining was high on the list of priorities. Here a class is given on the 81mm mortar, a 
battalion support weapon that also proved to be a heavy load when carried by South 
Vietnamese infantry and often was left behind when equipment was moved by foot. 

Photo couttesy of Leatherneck Magazine 



Vietnamese Marine Corps Photo 

Victory in Quang Tri is celebrated on the U.S. Marine 
Corps' birthday in 1972. From left are LtGen Ngo 
Quang Truong, commanding I Corps; Col Joshua Dor- 
sey, USMC, Senior Marine Advisor; and BGen Bui The 
Lan, commanding the Vietnamese Marine Division. 
The event took place in front of the situation map 
at the division command post at Huong Dien. 

struck, NVA soldiers who had survived the first attack 
had moved back into their battered positions. Viet- 
namese and U.S. Marines 3,000 meters away bore wit- 
ness to the devastating effectiveness of strategic 
bombers in a tactical role. 9 

December 1972 was marked by the ever-present pos- 
sibility that the continued negotiations between 
American National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger 
and North Vietnam's Le Due Tho would result in a 
ceasefire agreement and that truce accords would go 
into effect. Generally the frontlines remained static 
with the VNMC no closer than three and a half miles 
from the Cua Viet River. During the first part of the 
month the NVA initiated nothing larger than 
company-sized attacks. However, at dawn on 17 De- 
cember, the enemy launched a battalion-sized attack 
on the 7th VNMC Battalion, located west of the Vinh 
Dinh Canal. The NVA, in two separate attacks, lost 
37 dead on 18 December, and 132 killed the next day, 
and gained no ground. Documents found on enemy 
dead and on prisoners revealed that at least three regi- 
ments opposed the VNMC efforts to move north. The 
27th NVA Regiment* the 48th NVA Regiment, and 
the 101st NVA Regiment were making every effort to 
fix the Marines in place. 

Lieutenant Colonel George E.Jones' Sub Unit One 
continued to support South Vietnamese forces in 
MR 1 and throughout the rest of the country. During 
the last quarter of 1972, American ships, their fire 
coordinated and controlled by ANGLICO personnel, 

*Of the Bi From. 

fired 211,700 rounds in direct support of the Armed 
Forces of South Vietnam. US. naval gunfire enabled 
South Vietnamese artillery to move inland and pro- 
vide support for areas further to the west. Due to heavy 
rain curtailing airborne air controllers and tactical air 
support, almost twice as many naval rounds were fired 
during November and December in MR 1 as were fired 
by South Vietnamese 155mm howitzers. An NVA sold- 
ier captured by the ARVN Airborne Division, which 
was positioned west of the VNMC Division, reported 
that naval gunfire was extremely effective along the 
Thach Han River and that he, and others, had sur- 
rendered due to the heavy pounding. 

By the year's end, naval gunfire spotter instruction 
had been given to Vietnamese artillery forward ob- 
servers who then applied their new skills upon return- 
ing to the field. 10 On Christmas Day 1972, Sub Unit 

Victory in Quang Tri is celebrated in Saigon. For the 
Vietnamese Marines, this campaign brought increased 
popular support and prestige that was reflected in high 
levels of recruitment despite battlefield losses. 
Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 



Photo courtesy of LtCol George E. Jones, USMC (Ret) 
A large group of the normally disbursed Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO - the headquart- 
ers staff and others -pose in front of the unit headquarters in Saigon. At right is LtCol 
George E. Jones, the commanding officer during the counteroffensive in mid-1972. 

One suffered its last death in action when a Marine 
air observer in a South Vietnamese Air Force Cessna 
0-1 Bird Dog aircraft flew along the Cua Viet River 
to inspect the NVA positions to the north. First Lieu- 
tenant Dwight G. Rickman left Phu Bai that day to 
confirm that the Communist forces were complying 
with the truce. He never returned." 

There was very light contact between the two forces 
as 1973 began. Both sides made probes and counter- 
probes. On 14 January, the frontline battalions of 
VNMC Brigades 147 and 258 had heavy contact with 
the enemy all along the front. With a ceasefire likely, 
the 9th MAB became involved in coordinating plans 
to take all U.S. personnel out of MR I. General Miller 
requested that MACV make it clear to CinCPac that 
the amphibious forces were the only available resources 
capable of the task and that they not be used for clear- 
ing mines in North Vietnamese waters. 12 On 15 Janu- 
ary, under orders from Saigon, General Lan began 
planning for a final effort to gain the Cua Viet River 

prior to the now-certain ceasefire. The attack was to 
be made by an infantry and tank force with enough 
power to reach and cross the Cua Viet River. Task Force 
Tango was organized with the mission to seize the 
former U.S. naval base and LST ramp at the mouth 
of the river. 

At 0655 on 26 January, as the main VNMC attack 
began, every available supporting arm was brought to 
bear on the NVA. The ground attack, led by Colonel 
Nguyen Thanh Tri, the deputy commandant of the 
VNMC, advanced in two mechanized columns. Major 
James R. Sweeney, as the senior U.S. Marine advisor 
with Task Force Tango, moved forward with Colonel 
Tri. One column moved north along the coastal sand 
dunes while the other took advantage of a woodline 
which ran roughly three kilometers inland from the 
beach to move north by a parallel axis. Within three 
hours, the Marines had seized the intermediate ob- 
jectives despite determined resistance from the NVA. 

As the 4th VNMC Battalion under Lieutenant 



Colonel Nguyen Dang Tong, with Major William M. 
Keys as advisor, proceeded towards the final objective, 
the South Vietnamese armor came under fire by wire- 
guided AT-3 missiles. During the next 18 hours, 26 
M48 tanks and M113 armored personnel carriers were 
lost to Communist missile teams employed in groups 
of two and three. During this time, SA-7 surface-to- 
air missiles destroyed two allied airctaft flying close 
ait support. The NVA resisted fiercely as the left-hand 
column closed on its fortified positions. 13 

At 0145, 28 January, the column along the beach, 
with only three tanks in support of a mixed force of 
3d, 4th, and 5th VNMC Battalion Marines, made a 
final assault. At 0700, 300 Vietnamese Marines broke 
through the Communist lines and hoisted a red and 
yellow South Vietnamese flag at the Cua Viet River. 
A radio message to the task force command post 
repotted the lead company had secured the LST ramp 
on the south bank of the Cua Viet River and they were 
standing knee-deep in the river. Colonel Tri radioed 
back ". . . go deeper!" 14 


At 0745 the USS Turner Joy (DD 951) fired the last 
U.S. naval gunfire support in the Vietnam War and 
pulled off the gun line. Lieutenant Colonel Gerald 
H. Turley noted this action in the advisots' operational 

log. This was a fitting climax as the Turner Joy had 
been involved in the Gulf of Tonkin since 1964. At 
the same time, the U.S. withdrew all support to Task 
Force Tango, anticipating the ceasefire that would go 
into effect at 0800. Beginning around 0600, all ar- 
tillery north and south of the front began firing, 
gradually increasing in rate. Both sides had been stock- 
piling artillery ammunition for the final moments of 
the war. Neither side wanted the other to be able to 
make any last-minute gains of ground. 15 

The final enemy shelling produced some surprises, 
at least for Majot Nguyen Dang Hoa's 1st VNMC Bat- 
talion east of Quang Tri City. During the previous few 
weeks the battalion command group, which was lo- 
cated in an abandoned village a short distance to the 
rear of its forward companies, had experienced only 
desultory harassing fire. As the area was quite flat and 
the enemy possessed no vantage spot from which to 
adjust artillety fire, it was assumed that the command 
group's location was not known to the NVA. This as- 
sumption proved untrue. 

After a few ranging shots of high-explosive, point- 
detonating rounds, the enemy switched to shells 
armed with hitherto tarely used delay fuzes. While 
the well-built South Vietnamese bunkers provided a 
more-than-adequate defense against the former 

The opposing forces remained facing each other where the battle lines were drawn. At 
the Thach Ran River at Quang Tri, the south bank is marked by South Vietnamese flags. 

Government of Vietnam Photo 



rounds, they were no match for the delay-fuzed vari- 
ety. Although the area was saturated with delay 
rounds, none hit any of the crowded bunkers. With 
low-hanging clouds precluding any friendly air sup- 
port and the U.S. Navy pulling off the gun line, there 
was little else to do but wait for the ceasefire. At 0800 
all Firing stopped. While the Americans and the South 
Vietnamese observed the truce accords, the NVA pre- 
pared for a new offensive. 16 Recalled Lieutenant 
Colonel Turley, who had served through to the end, 
"all U.S. Marine advisors were formally relieved of their 
duties with Vietnamese battalions." They returned to 
the VNMC division command post at Huong Dien 
where General Lan assembled the Marine Advisory 
Unit for a final formation. The next morning, all but 
five advisors returned to Saigon for rotation back to 
the United States. 17 

For Task Force Tango along the Cua Viet River the 
fighting continued. That evening the NVA launched 
a counterattack against VNMC forces at the naval base. 
Other NVA units cut across the rear of both columns 
in an effort to separate them from support, and suc- 
ceeding in this by 30 January. At this point, a 
company-sized force from the 4th battalion was en- 
circled at the Cua Viet River outposts. Efforts to resup- 
ply the Marines from across the beach resulted in the 
loss of a mechanized landing craft (LCM). The VNMC 
units attempted to break out south along the beach 
on 31 January, rather than be isolated by the NVA. 
"All contact with beleaguered Marines was lost and 
the outpost overrun " was the terse wording of the di- 
vision operations summary as of 0935 that morning. 
The South Vietnamese suffered 40 casualties and lost 
20 armored vehicles in the post-ceasefire incident. 18 



A Tract of Time 

9th MAB and the Naval Campaign — Support to the Fleet— Evacuations — Search and Rescue 
NGF Airborne Spotters, Fast and Slow— Raids and Demonstrations —Redeyes at Sea 
Support to Military Region 1 — Fleet Support Continues 
Across the Beach: The Lam Son Landings —Turnaway at Quang Tri 

9th MAB and the Naval Campaign 

Separate from the advisory effort with the Viet- 
namese Marine Corps in MR L, 01 Marine Amphibious 
Force aviation and ground units participted with the 
Seventh Fleet and the Seventh Air Force in reacting to 
the enemy's Spring Offensive. The North Vietnamese 
attack of 30 March 1972 had found III MAF forces 
deployed for rapid response to the unfolding and con- 
fusing situation. Brigadier General Edward J. Miller's 
9th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) Headquarters 
was on the USS Blue Ridge at White Beach, Okina- 
wa; Colonel Walter C. Kelly's 31st Marine Amphibious 
Unit (MAU) had just departed the U.S. Naval Base 
Subic Bay, Philippines, for the South China Sea on 
Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) Alpha ships; Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Phillip B. Friedrkhs' Battalion Landing 
Team 1/9 (BLT Bravo) with ARG Bravo had left Hong 
Kong for the East China Sea.* 1 On the morning of 
2 April, the 31st MAU and BLT Bravo were already 
off the Vietnamese coast awaiting developments in MR 
1. Vice Admiral William P. Mack, the Seventh Fleet 
commander, had diverted ARGs Alpha and Bravo to 
positions 15 nautical miles east of the Demilitarized 
Zone (DMZ) for possible evacuation of Americans 
from Dong Ha. On the Tripoli, Colonel Kelly and 
Lieutenant Colonel William R. Von Harten, com- 
manding BLT 3/4, monitored radio traffic sent by 
Lieutenant Colonel Turley from the Ai Tu Combat 
Base, as he "attempted to bring order from chaos."** 2 

Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., CinCPac, cancelled Ex- 
ercise Golden Dragon on 3 April, and III MAF's com- 
mander, Lieutenant General Louis Metzger, ordered 
General Miller and the 9th MAB staff to remain on 
the USS Blue Ridge for combat or evacuation opera- 
tions. The Blue Ridge, with the Task Force 76 com- 

*ARG A: 31sr MAU, BLT 3/4, HMM-165, and Logistic Support 
Unit Alpha an the Tripoli, Anchorage, Duluth, and Schenectady. 
ARG B: BLT 1/9 on the Denver, Tuscaloosa, and Mobile. 

**Latet it was learned that General Cao Van Vien of the South 
Vietnamese Joint General Staff and General Abrams were still as- 
sessing the situation in MR 1 and had not sent or approved the 
initial calls for assistance to the Seventh Fleer, requests which had 
been generared from the confused situation in MR 1. See Chapter 
4 for details. 

mander, Rear Admiral Walter D. Gaddis, and General 
Miller, sailed for Vietnam on 5 April. Admiral Mack 
returned ARG Bravo to White Beach, Okinawa, to 
replace defective amphibian tractors and to load ad- 
ditional supplies and personnel. These orders were 
passed through the operational chain of command to 
the "action agency"— III MAF in General Metzger's 
case. He recalled that Seventh Fleet was saturated with 
message traffic at this point. Aviation deployments 
with "tight" time schedules required Metzger to move 
his forces and to notify Seventh Fleet that unless other- 
wise directed he would do so "in accordance with ord- 
ers from higher authority." 3 

With the forward deployment of amphibious forces 
to holding areas off the DMZ, Admiral Mack directed 
units to conduct "ready operations," a term that in- 
cluded both contingency and support activities. The 
9th MAB had various contingency plans which were 
based on its task-organized character. After the ini- 
tial attacks, the amphibious brigade turned its atten- 
tion from potentially conducting emergency evacua- 
tions to building up its forces. During the next 10 
months there were at least nine changes in task or- 
ganization as amphibious ready groups and Marine 
units rotated. Changes occurred because of ship avail- 
ability, contingency requirements, and the long inter- 
vals at sea.*** 4 

Marine units at sea for operations on 9 April were 
the 9th MAB headquarters, 31st MAU, and BLT Bravo. 
Upon arriving in the Tonkin Gulf, the brigade or- 
ganized itself into a regimental landing team and a 
composite helicopter squadron.**** 5 Admiral Mack 
kept Amphibious Squadron (Phibron) 5 in the 
Western Pacific as ARGs Alpha and Bravo, despite its 

***There were three general arrangements: first, the preinvasion 
ready force of an embarked Marine amphibious unit and an addi- 
tional battalion landing team; next, the expansion of contingency 
forces to two MAUs and rwo BLTs; finally, the retention of two MAUs 
as the probability of intervention lessened in late summer 1972. 

****Initial task organization on 9 April 1972: 9th MAB (TG 79.1), 
H&S Co, 9th MAB (TU 79-1.0), Det, 1st RadBn (TE 79-1 0.1); RLT 
4 (TU 79.1.2), Hq, 31st MAU (TE, BLT 3/4 (TE, 
BLT 1/9 (TE, Det B, HML-367 (TE, Der A, 
HML-367 (TU 79.1-3); BLSG (TU 79.1.4), LFSP (TU 79.1.5); 
HMM-165 (TU 79.1.6). 



Fai Tsi Long 


Thanh \ C h «o 
Hoa •\Estuary 


— IB" 

Cape Ron 
Cape Dao 


Support to Search and Rescue or 
Naval Gunfire missions 

Chap Mach 
L, e Nuoc 


9th MAB Operations 
March-September 1972 

Kien Rive 

\ Xom ; 
X Bangf ^ 
*. IT Vu»,^Cape La 

Vit Thu^uJ _Con 

I JkrDong Ha 

I Rt r* 

^ QuangTri 


kilometers i 



SOUth* Hue 


Turnaway 12 May 
Turnaway 27 June, 9 September 
Evacuation Standby March/April 

Amphibious Holding Area 


Landing 11 July, 22 July 
Landing 29 June 
Evacuation Standby May 
Landing 23 May 
Landing 13 May 

Da Nang 


Adapted from Naval Historical Center Material 



Department of Defense Photo (USMQ A800634 
American Marine staffs spent the early part of the Spring Offensive preparing for a variety 
of contingencies before the situation stabilized enough to take definite action. BGen Ed- 
ward]. Miller, in his stateroom on board the USS Blue Ridge, at right rear, and his staff 
are briefed by the MAB G-3, LtCol James L. Shanahan, on a proposed course of action. 

planned return to the United States. On 11 April, the 

newly arrived Amphibious Squadron 7 formed Am- 
phibious Ready Groups Charlie and Delta* General 
Metzger formed an additional MAU and BLT to pro- 
vide landing forces for Charlie and Delta. The 33d 
MAU was activated under Colonel Robert J. Perrich, 
then commanding 4th Marines. This amphibious unit 
consisted of Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Hertberg's 
HMM-164 and Lieutenant Colonel Clyde D. Dean's 
BLT 1/4. Embarkation on amphibious ships was fol- 
lowed by landing exercises in the Philippines, and then 
deployment to amphibious holding areas off the coast 
of Vietnam. 

When the USS Blue Ridge arrived off the DM2 with 
Task Force 76 and the 9th MAB, Admiral Gaddis and 
General Miller were ordered by Seventh Fleet to con- 
duct "amphibious operations as directed." Five possi- 
ble courses of action arose: evacuations, landings, 
demonstrations, support to the Seventh Fleet, and sup- 
port to the South Vietnamese. Prompted by Admirals 

*Phibron 5: USS Tripo/i{LPH 10), Duluth (LPD 6), Denver (LPD 
9). Mi. Vernon (LSD 39), Anchorage (LSD 36), Mobile (LKA 115), 
Tuscaloosa (LST 1187), and Schenectady (LST 1185). Phibron 7: USS 
Okinawa (LPH 3). Juneau (LPD 10), Point Defiance (LSD 31), Alamo 
(LSD 33), St. Louis (LKA 116), Manitowoc (LST 1180), Sumter (LST 
1181), Cayuga (LST 1186), Barbour County (LST 1195), and Bristol 
County (LST 1198). 

Mack and McCain's need for a variety of alternatives 
during April, Admiral Gaddis and General Miller con- 
ducted a wide-ranging and at times frenzied planning 
effort simultaneously with ongoing operations.** 6 The 
Marines of the 9th MAB soon wete involved in tasks 
other than their basic amphibious assault mission. This 
dictated separation from task force and parent units 
to meet commitments that were not anticipated in ex- 
isting contingency plans. Most assignments were 
parallel at various times to ready operations and sup- 
port to the Republic of Vietnam. 7 "They were interest- 
ing times," concluded Genetal Miller. 8 
Support to the Fleet 
The Seventh Fleet amphibious ships soon found 
that the demands of 24-hour combat watches in the 
Gulf of Tonkin could not be met entirely with the 
ship's crew, most of whom were conducting both regu- 
lar and general-quarter duties at such points as gun 
positions, watch stations, and damage control stations. 
Battalion and squadron staffs manned shipboard coor- 
dination centers for operations, logistics, and fire sup- 
port during periods of general quarters (particularly 
when Vietnamese Marines were embarked and Task 

**The 9th MAB operations officer, Lieutenant Colonel James L. 
Shanahan, recalled this description as "possibly not extreme enough." 
(Shanahan Comments) 


Marine Corps Historical Collection 

In a number of instances, command and control facilities were maintained on amphibi- 
ous ships. In this LPH combat operations center, tasks could have ranged from fire sup- 
port to logistics coordination. Radio operators and staff officers man positions for the 
communication nets used to manage amphibious and air operations during landings. 

In a traditional role, Marines manned shipboard gun positions alongside naval person- 
nel. Here a mixed crew serves a 5-inch, JO-caliber gun mount, Originally designed as 
antiaircraft weapons, guns of this type provided antiboat and shore fire support. 

Photo courtesy of Maj Charles D. Mclson, USMC 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800762 
Some U.S. Marines worked .50- caliber heavy machine guns during landing operations 
by the South Vietnamese armed forces. Shown here are South Vietnamese Rangers load- 
ing landing craft at Tan My for movement to amphibious assault ships located offshore. 

Force 76 provided command and control facilities).* 
To counter the threat of Communist small-boat at- 
tacks, ships' crews manned deck-mounted machine 
guns. When sailors assigned to fire .50-caliber machine 
guns proved unskilled in their use, Marine armored 
vehicle crews and truck drivers who were trained to 
use the M2 Browning and M60 machine guns were 
pressed into service to conduct training for the sailors. 
As landing operations began, the ships' captains as- 
signed Marines to landing craft to operate machine 
guns. Embarked Marines continued these shipboard 
duties throughout the crisis in the gulf. 

Seventh Fleet used Admiral Gaddis' ships, with 
General Miller's Marines on board, to augment other 
fleet units such as the carrier and naval gunfire groups, 
for naval gunfire spotting, antiaircraft defense, and 
electronic support measures. These tasks were concur- 
rent with ready operations, but required independent 
steaming and sent Marines the length and breadth of 
the Tonkin Gulf s area of operations. In one instance, 
the departure of fleet hospital ships from Seventh Fleet 
had left Admiral Gaddis without major medical fa- 

*Marines on board ship were commanded by the senior Marine 
present, the "commanding officer of troops," who answered to the 
vessel's captain for their discipline and welfare. Under normal cir- 
cumstances, requirements for mess, maintenance, and police func- 
tions to support the ship came from a "ship's platoon" from which 
the Marines' share of housekeeping duties was met. 

cilities closer than the naval hospital at Subic Bay, 
Philippines. At the start of the Spring Offensive, sur- 
gical teams were established on the USS Tripoli and 
Okinawa, and these ships were positioned to provide 
medical coverage for carrier and gunfire strikes. These 
same facilities treated Vietnamese Marines wounded 
during assault landings." Other amphibious ships were 
diverted at various times to provide search and rescue 
platforms, helicopter gunship support, disaster relief 
operations, and mine clearing— taking their embarked 
troops with them. These final events were conducted 
after the combat crisis in MR 1 had passed in 
mid-1972. The flexibility of the amphibious task force 
was one of its greatest assets, but had to be employed 
discreetly. The use of Marines for numerous unexpect- 
ed duties caused enough concern at Headquarters Ma- 
rine Corps for staff to observe in a study: 

. . . Some of the functions performed by the 9th Marine 
Amphibious Brigade during the period reported on normally 
are not assigned to the landing force; for example: mine 
sweeping missions supporrcd by Marine assers; augmenting 
ship AA defenses with landing force surface to air missiles; 
dedicating amphibious lift assets to SAR functions. The Ma- 
rine Corps position is that landing force assets will not be 
assigned to perform these functions except in an emergen- 
cy when other assets cannot be made available. 10 


The uncertainty of the military situation in MR 1 
made the evacuation of Americans from the region 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
During the course of air operations in 1972, amphibious assault ships served as search 
and rescue platforms for Navy and Marine Corps helicopters. Between air strikes, this 
Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King on the USS Denver is on SAR standby off North Vietnam. 

the most probable mission. General Creighton W, 
Abrams asked Admiral Mack to support possible with- 
drawals from Hue, Phu Bai, and Da Nang. Major 
General Frederick J. Kroesen, Jr., USA, commanding 
1st Regional Assistance Command (FRAC), planned 
for the evacuation of 2,240 American military and 
civilians and 65,000 pounds of cargo. If movement by 
USAF aircraft were not possible, this would be accom- 
plished by Task Force 76 and the 9th MAB. Admiral 
Mack allocated a single Marine amphibious unit — a 
reinforced infantry battalion and a composite helicop- 
ter squadron— • to carry out these plans, on the assump- 
tion that withdrawals would be sequential. The Da 
Nang plan required an additional helicopter squa- 
dron. Simultaneous withdrawals from Da Nang and 
Phu Bai would need an additional Marine amphibi- 
ous unit and naval amphibious ready group. 

Existing operation plans dealt with administration, 
logistics, reporting, and standardized amphibious 
landings rather than with specific contingencies. As 
a result, units had to draw up evacuation plans from 
scratch. 11 Responsibility for contingencies rotated with 
9th MAB units on "Yankee Station"* and were the 

'"Yankee" and "Dixie" were naval terms for specific locations of 
carrier task force operations in the Gulf of Tonkin and the South 
China Sea. In 1972, Yankee Station was used in a more generic sense 
for any ship location in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

subject of continuing coordination with the FRAC 
through July 1972, even as the North Vietnamese 
threat to MR 1 diminished. 12 Of major concern was 
the 8th Radio Research Field Station (RRFS) at 
Hue/Phu Bai and its 1,000 special-intelligence per- 
sonnel and their equipment. Plans called for 9th MAB 
to secure landing sites, provide security, and to with- 
draw the evacuees by helicopter or amphibian trac- 
tor. Marines went ashore to coordinate and conduct 
required reconnaissance of Hue/Phu Bai for this pos- 
sible mission. After his reconnaissance, Lieutenant 
Colonel Von Harten told the 31st MAU commander, 
Colonel Kelly, that defenses ashore were virtually 
nonexistent and that a successful evacuation under 
enemy attack was doubtful. On another visit, a BLT 
1/9 helicopter was not allowed to land at the 8th RRFS 
landing pad because it did not have the proper clear- 
ance to enter a "sensitive" area. 13 

Search and Rescue 

Amphibious ships from Task Force 76, at one time 
including both helicopter carriers, were used as search 
and rescue (SAR) stations in support of Task Force 77 
carrier air-attacks. These vessels deployed to positions 
off North Vietnam rather than remain in the amphibi- 
ous holding area near the DMZ. The "Big Mothers" 
of TF 77's Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HQ 


7, flying Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopters from TF 
76 amphibious ships positioned in the Tonkin Gulf 
were the primary SAR aircraft to recover Air Force and 
naval crews who went "feet wet." With a motto of "You 
fall, we haul," Navy SAR crews picked up downed flyers 
from under the guns of shore-based North Vietnamese 
forces. Marine helicopters and crews stood by to as- 
sist. To support recovery attempts, Admiral Mack had 
ordered General Miller to have a 300-man helicopter 
reaction force available on 48-hour standby to rescue 
downed crews or escaping prisoners from shore. 14 

On 14 April, the brigade received a reminder that 
being offshore was still within the combat zone. The 
Navy's helicopter direction center (HDC) on the Tripo- 
li dispatched an unarmed HMM-165 helicopter to as- 
sist in the search for a missing Marine Intruder EA-6A 
pilot off the coast of North Vietnam. The CH-46, 
flown by Marine First Lieutenants Lawrence J. "Hal" 
Paglioni and Michael L. Powell, flew a lazy search pat- 
tern in the humid air of the Tonkin Gulf in response 
to vectors from the ship's HDC. As the aircraft reached 
Tiger Island (Hon Co), North Vietnamese antiaircraft 
gunners opened up on the helicopter flying at 500 
feet. A single 14. 5mm round passed through the front 
of the aircraft, between Powell's legs, ripping diagonal- 


ly through the front and out the side of the armored 
seat, exploding and wounding him in the face. As they 
made their way back to the Tripod, the two pilots ber- 
ated the HDC for the error and pointedly observed 
that there was "still a war going on." 15 

One Marine pilot who flew search and rescue off 
North Vietnam, First Lieutenant Laurence W. Rush, 
recalled these operations at general quarters: 

. . . Everyone was sleeping fully clothed and with life vests 
on. The air strike was due to start at three. The air was tense 
with expectation .... We expected to be busy in a very 
short time .... Dawn came and a new dimension was ad- 
ded. We could actually see our planes diving in and the 
smoke trails of the missiles coming up to meet them. We 
could see the shore line and the ship was ordered to pro- 
ceed to a new holding area just beyond sight of shore. 16 

The Marine and Navy helicopters rescued several 
American aircrews shot down during the intensified 
air war over North Vietnam. One Thailand- based Air 
Force F-4 crew was recovered during an April 1972 
strike at Thanh Hoa. The men were floating off the 
coast when a SH-3 SAR "bird" located them; the 
downed airmen first thought it was a North Viet- 
namese helicopter! Despite this misperception, the 
SH-3 picked them up and ferried them to the LPD 

Glad to be back, Navy Lt Randall H. Cunningham and Lt (jg) William P. Driscoll 
arrive on the USS Constellation after being rescued in the Gulf of Tonkin. They got 
three MiGs before going down. The CH-46 that brought them is from HMM-164. 

Department of Defense Photo (USN) 115713 



Photo courtesy of Maj Charles D. Melson, USMC 
A Marine UH-1 lands on the USS Denver after flying 
a naval gunfire spot mission in support of Linebacker 
and Freedom Train operations. It was flown by the 
HML-367 detachment with BLT Bravo, whose aircraft 
provided interim support to the naval gunfire ships. 

USS Denver, In another instance, Lieutenant Randall 
H. Cunningham and Lieutenant (jg) William P. Dris- 
coll were picked up by Navy SAR helicopters after 
shooting down their fifth MiG and becoming the Na- 
vy's current leading air aces. A Marine CH-46 from 
the USS Okinawa carried Cunningham and Driscoll 
to their own ship, the Constellation. 

NGF Airborne Spotters, Fast and Slow 
Admiral Mack requested General Metzger to pro- 
vide aircraft and Marines to support Task Group 77.1 
engaged in naval gunfire strikes north of the DMZ. 
General Metzger, himself an air observer, proposed us- 
ing McDonnell-Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk dual-seat jets 
flying out of Da Nang as "Fast FACs" because the 
threat of enemy antiaircraft fire over the DMZ and 
North Vietnam prevented the effective use of anything 
but jet aircraft. He also proposed UH-1E helicopters 
off amphibious ships as spotting platforms. Trained 
personnel to support this were in two naval gunfire 
spot teams already with General Miller, in an addi- 
tional team at Subic Bay, and among 16 more air ob- 
servers rushed out from Okinawa and Hawaii. Addi- 
tional air observers were with the infantry and artillery 
units of the brigade. 

On 18 April, the USS Denver departed the am- 
phibious holding area off the DMZ to join Task Group 
77.1 for naval gunfire operations. General Miller es- 
tablished a naval gunfire support element on board 
the Denver using two UH-1E helicopters of Detach- 
ment Bravo, HML-367, and two UH-lEs from 
HMM-165 from the USS Tripoli. The element was in- 

itially under Major Harrison A. Makeever, but Cap- 
tain Stephen D. Hill was the officer in charge during 
most of its existence. The detachment included five 
naval gunfire spotters and support personnel. On 19 
April, a conference was held on the USS Chicago (CG 
11) to organize the participants. Airborne spotters were 
used off Vinh on 20 April and then off Hon Mat, 
Thanh Hoa, and Dong Hoi on succeeding days. Mis- 
sion effectiveness was marginal and conferences on 
board the USS Denver on 23 April and the USS Long 
Beach (CGN 9) on 27 April were unable to resolve 
the difficulties encountered in providing effective spot- 
ting. Admiral Mack suspended spot missions at the 
end of the month and directed the Denver to rejoin 
Task Force 76. 

In retrospect, the enemy situation did not allow this 
concept to succeed. As naval gunfire strikes were con- 
ducted in daylight, the UH-1E spotting aircraft could 
not fly over land and still avoid the SAM and AAA 
threat. The spotters encountered problems in lack of 
coordination from communications procedures to tac- 
tics. The naval gunfire ships, outgunned by shore bat- 
teries, made their runs at the coastline in column, 
turning in line to fire while parallel with the coast, 
then back to column for withdrawal. They could not 
wait for subsequent corrections from the spotters. As 
the threat of North Vietnamese countermeasures in- 
creased, the ships conducted their fires at night which 
made air spotting difficult, if not impossible. These 
missions also hampered Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich, 
who found his efforts to prepare BLT 1/9 for contin- 
gencies wasted because of the 180-mile separation of 
his staff and units from the rest of the brigade for a 
two-week period in support of such operations. 17 

Raids and Demonstrations 

American planners had long considered the possi- 
bility of an amphibious landing at Vinh to cut the 
Vietnamese panhandle north of the DMZ. The Ma- 
rine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, had present- 
ed such a landing as a planning exercise to students 
in the past. Lieutenant General William K. Jones, 
commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Pacific, 
remembered suggesting this option to General Wil- 
liam C. Westmoreland in 1965 while Jones was a 
brigadier general in charge of the MACV operations 
center. In practice, Seventh Fleet conducted feints 
north of the DMZ in 1968 and 1971. 18 The availabili- 
ty of the U.S. forces and the vulnerabilities of the 
North Vietnamese to this course of action were never 
greater than in the spring of 1972 as authorities in 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) 1151455 
Daylight naval gunfire operations by destroyers were within range of North Vietnamese 
counteraction. As a result, night firing was adopted to minimize this risk factor. Here 
the USS Richard B. Anderson increases speed to avoid shellfire from Hon Co Island. 

Washington and CinCPac considered the feasibility of 

raids and demonstrations by amphibious forces. A 
Central Intelligence Agency analyst on Ambassador 
Ellsworth Bunker's staff in Saigon, Edwin W. Besch, 
observed that an amphibious landing in North Viet- 
nam to the rear of NVA forces would have had a greater 
operational effect than the tactical landings conduct- 
ed in South Vietnam. 19 

Early on, Seventh Fleet's Admiral Mack proposed an 
amphibious assault directly at the North Vietnamese 
mainland, or at least a feint or demonstration* Soon 
after arriving in the Tonkin Gulf, Admiral Gaddis is- 
sued an order for a Task Force 76 demonstration against 
the Dong Hoi-Quang Khe areas. Admiral McCain, 
CinCPac, then directed a demonstration just south of 
the DM2. The 1st Regional Assistance Command's 
General Kroesen objected and did not want the am- 
phibious task force to operate away from its northern 
holding area. He was concerned that the 325th NVA 
Division would move into MR 1; he believed that the 
amphibious task force off the DMZ prevented this by 
posing a threat to the rear and supply lines of the NVA 
B-5 Front. Both operations were canceled prior to a 
proposed D-Day of 24 April 1972. 20 

By late April, planning focused on more specific 
contingencies. Prompted by the need to relieve pres- 
sure on South Vietnamese forces in MR 1 and by the 
possibilities of having to rescue stranded aircrews, 
General Miller and Admiral Gaddis developed plans 

♦Amphibi ous demonstrations were operations conducted as a de- 
ception to cause North Vietnamese forces to redeploy or remain 
inactive in order to deal with a perceived threat. The full range of 
preparation was conducted to include troop movement, com- 
munications, and preparatory and supporting fires. The assault was 
executed as an actual attack with surface and airborne forces turn- 
ing away just at the last moment prior to landing. 

to land Marines by surface and air assault on several 
points in North Vietnam. Lieutenant Colonel James 
L. Shanahan, the 9th MAB operations officer, com- 
mented that there "was scarcely a single square-inch 
of the North Vietnamese coastal littoral of any value 
whatsoever which was not the subject of at least one 
plan." 21 Lieutenant Colonel George B. Crist as brigade 
plans officer considered Vinh, Dong Hoi, Quang Khe, 
and Hon Matt island as logical targets. Courses of ac- 
tion included a two-BLT demonstration at Dong Hoi, 
a two-BLT raid at Quang Khe, a one-BLT raid on Hon 
Mat, a two-BLT demonstration at Vinh, and a raid or 
a feint at Quang Khe with up to two BLTs. Brigade 
proposals called for the transportation and support of 
Vietnamese forces to conduct these same missions us- 
ing TF 76. General Miller emphasized throughout the 
planning process the requirement for absolute local 
superiority in supporting arms. 22 

Colonel Robert J. Perrich's 33d MAU joined 9th 
MAB in the Tonkin Gulf on 28 April. On Okinawa, 
Major General Joseph C. Fegan, Jr., the 3d Marine Di- 
vision commander, assigned Lieutenant Colonel John 
C. Gonzalez' 2/9 as BLT Delta, the division's air con- 
tingency unit. On 1 May, ready forces went on two- 
hour standby for evacuation operations in support of 
FRAC. Marines and sailors of the 31st MAU, BLT Bra- 
vo, and the 33d MAU manned battle stations until 
MACV Advisory Team 155 withdrew from Quang Tri 
City in USAF HH-53 "Jolly Green Giant" helicopters. 
The majority of U.S. Marine advisors remained with 
their Vietnamese units as they retreated south from 
Quang Tri towards Hue. With the dissolution of the 
3d ARVN Division** and the South Vietnamese with- 
drawals to th e My Chanh River, the situation in MR 

**The "Ben Hai Flyers" to the Marines afloat, although this was 
unjust considering the relative sttengths of the forces involved. 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
In response to demands for special operations, 9th 
MAB ground units prepared for battle within the 
confines of shipboard living. Here a man practices with 
an M2A1 portable flame thrower, discharging water, 
rather than jellied gasoline, from the ship's side. 

1 was critical. 23 American combat forces in MR 1 were 
reduced to the 11th Aviation Group, the 196th Infan- 
try Brigade, and USAF base defense forces at Da Nang 
as incremental redeployments continued.* 24 

By 7 May, ARVN units, backed by American fire- 
power, formed a defensive line along the My Chanh 
River. Lieutenant General Ngo Quang Truong took 
command of I Corps from Lieutenant General Hoang 
Xuan Lam and moved into forward headquarters in the 
Citadel in Hue.** General Truong's immediate task 
was to defend Hue and stabilize his forces. Support- 
ed by MACV's 1st Regional Assistance Command, 
General Truong moved swiftly to establish his chain of 
command, designate reserves, and enhance his control 
of supporting arms. This set the stage for 9th MAB's 
direct support of ERAC and the VNMC Division in 
the defense of Hue and the I Corps counteroffensive 
that followed. 25 

Redeyes at Sea 

Admiral Mack had been concerned since mid-April 
that the North Vietnamese would try to attack one of 
his carriers as operations intensified in the Tonkin 
Gulf. Whether the Communists could tell the differ- 

*By 30 April 1972, actual American troop-strength in South Viet- 
nam was at 68,100 — compared to the authorized goal of 49,000. 

**General Metzger held Truong in high esteem from the period of 
close work between the 1st ARVN Division and the 3d Marine Di- 
vision in 1967, considering him "an exceedingly competent and able 
combat commander." (Metzget Comments) 

ence between an aircraft or helicopter carrier was not 
known and academic to Marines who found themselves 
going to general quarters on both. At this time, a 
North Vietnamese MiG-17, Mikoyan-Gurevich Fresco, 
bombed the USS Higbee (DD 806) while engaged in a 
surface attack on Dong Hoi, highlighting the vulner- 
ability of Seventh Fleet ships to North Vietnamese air 
attack.*** Because of the lack of effective point air 
defense weapons**** on some ships, Admiral Mack 
asked the Marine Corps to provide "Redeye" missiles 
and forward air defense teams for protection. General 
Jones, FMFPac, authorized the deployment of missile 
teams on 7 May after an evaluation by First Fleet 
showed the feasibility of the concept of employing 
shoulder-fired missiles on board ship. On 8 May, First 
Lieutenant James B. Dowling's 3d Redeye Platoon, 3d 
Marine Aircraft Wing, departed MCAS El Toro, Cali- 
fornia. The platoon of 42 men took with them 44 mis- 
sile systems, six night viewing devices, and associated 
support equipment. Arriving in the Western Pacific 
they were assigned to General Miller for support of 
the Seventh Fleet. This allowed naval gunfire ships to 
continue to fire against targets in North Vietnam 
without diverting carrier aircraft to combat air patrols. 

While an American "Thunder Curtain" of support- 
ing naval gunfire, tactical air, and B-52 Arc Lights pro- 
tected the South Vietnamese in MR 1, Admiral Mack 
again moved north, issuing an initiating directive for 
Operation Heroic Action, a raid to seize the Dong Hoi 
ferry crossings south of Vinh. General Miller said the 
purpose was "to go into North Vietnam and a whole 
bunch of other things." 26 Wrote a young battalion- 
level staff officer: 

. . . One morninj; in May 1972 aboard the USS Denver (LPD 
9), I was sorting incoming message traffic when I came to 
an operations order. I turned to the battalion operations 
officer and said, "This looks like the real thing." He looked 
at the message and headed for the commanding officers 
stateroom muttering about "going to war." 87 

A week of intense planning followed; orders, maps, 
and aerial photos were issued to the rifle companies 
and attached units. The Marines on ship in newly is- 
sued camouflage "utility" uniforms focused on clean- 
ing weapons, packing combat equipment, and a series 
of detailed inspections. Seventh Fleet assigned four 
destroyers for naval gunfire, two destroyers for escort, 
and two aircraft carriers for support. Rehearsal and 

***This was on 19 April 1972 This MiG was shot down by the 
USS Sterett (CG 31) with a Terrier missile. 

****Available 3"50 and 5"54 guns were not designed for use 
against high-performance aircraft. 



communication exercises began on 11 May off Dong 
Hoi. On 13 May, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Chair- 
man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, postponed the oper- 
ation indefinitely, because he wanted amphibious 
forces to remain in position to back-up MR l. 28 Ad- 
miral McCain, CinCPac, then ordered a demonstra- 
tion for the next day, but cancelled it when he 
concluded that the absence of both helicopter carri- 
ers, supporting other operations, would defeat the pur- 
pose of the maneuver. The landing was called off "at 
the last minute." 

A 9th MAB message to General Metzger described 
Heroic Action as a turnaway landing. General Jones, 
then FMFPac, remembered the raid "as a fact," but 
agreed with Admiral McCain's final decision. Records 
from Seventh Fleet and Fleet Marine Force Pacific in- 
dicated it was to be a raid, while records from the Pa- 
cific Command and JCS stated for political reasons it 
was never more than a deception plan. The possibili- 
ty of landing was valid considering the availability of 
forces and a situation that lent itself to success, and 
this was what the North Vietnamese were to believe. 
Seventh Fleet amphibious forces were now totally com- 
mitted to the support of American and Vietnamese 
units in South Vietnam. 

Support to Military Region 1 
To this point, 9th MAB and TF 76 operations had 
been unilateral Seventh Fleet actions. This condition 
changed to meet General Creighton W. Abram's need 
for direct support to FRAC and the South Vietnamese 

in MR 1. General Miller observed that, ". . . political 
constraints precluded the reintroduction of U.S. Ma- 
rine Corps troops into South Vietnam in a land warfare 
role. Still, there were other alternatives to simply land- 
ing U.S. Marines." 29 The flexibility and availability to 
General Miller and Task Force 76 provided the Seventh 
Fleet with a wide variety of options to support MR 1. 
The close relationship between the Vietnamese and 
American Marines, built up over the years, provided 
for excellent coordination. Direct support to the Viet- 
namese Marine Corps Division included command 
and control, staff planning, fire support, assault sup- 
port, and logistics. Lieutenant Colonel Gerald H. 
Turley, the G-3 Advisor to the VNMC Division, 
referred to the amphibious sailors and Marines as "our 
brothers off shore" for the subsequent contributions 
by the amphibious forces to the defense and counter- 
attack in MR 1 from May through September 1972. 3 ° 

General Truong and FRAC's General Kroesen met 
with the 9th MAB staff for the ongoing defense of Hue 
City. This broadened to planning with MACV for am- 
phibious support of General Truong's efforts to regain 
Quang Tri City. General Abrams forwarded General 
Truong's request for Seventh Fleet support to Admiral 
McCain, and subsequent planning conferences in Hue 
ironed out the planning details and allowed for coor- 
dination of supporting arms and communications. In- 
itial plans called for offensive operations in the Hai 
Lang Forest area. 

Early on 13 May, Marines of 33d MAU's HMM-164 

As support for Military Region 1 became a priority, Marines afloat put specific plans to 
work In the ready room of the USS New Orleans, LtCol Charles H. F. Egger briefs the 
other pilots and crews ofHMM-165 prior to a Joint operation with the South Vietnamese. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800697 



and BLT 1/4 "stood to" in anticipation of the day's 
activities. The USS Okinawa, Mobile, Cayuga, 
Manitowoc, Point Defiance, and St. Louis moved into 
a holding area 30 miles from the coastline. To allow 
for a simultaneous launch, helicopters were positioned 
on all available deck space* Marines augmented the 
ships' crews manning battle stations: guns, medical, 
deck, damage control, and search-and-rescue. The suc- 
cess of this first combined operation began the series 
of landings used to contain and later to defeat the 
Communist forces in MR 1. 

Fleet Support Continues 

The first Redeye missile teams deployed the day af- 
ter arriving at Subic Bay, Philippines. By 19 May, 10 
teams of four men each were on naval gunfire ships 
in the Tonkin Gulf. The initial assignments found 
Lieutenant Dowling and a team on the USS Provi- 
dence (CLG 6), with others on the USS Mullinnix (DD 
944), Everett F. Larson (DD 830), Benjamin Stoddert 
(DDG 22), Eversole (DD 789), Berkeley (DDG 15), 
Hanson (DD 832), Hull (DD 945), Buchanan (DDG 
14), and Dennis J. Buckley (DD 808). Lieutenant 
Dowling 's missile teams rotated on board additional 
ships depending upon their proximity to the North 
Vietnamese shore defenses. Eighteen rwo-man teams 
were organized by the middle of the year to provide 
additional coverage. Training of navy gunners began 
at Subic Bay and Twentynine Palms, California, allow- 
ing the Navy to take over missile defense from the Ma- 
rines.** The effectiveness of this expedient antiaircraft 
defense was never put to the test. The U.S. soon con- 
ducted naval gunfire attacks at night and American 
aircraft bombed the airfields that posed a threat to 
the Seventh Fleet. 31 

BLT Delta (BLT 2/9) boarded ARG ships and ar- 
rived off MR 1 on 22 May. This brought the 9th MAB 
to its maximum strength during 1972. The brigade 
consisted of the 31st MAU (Provisional Marine Air- 
craft Group 10) and 33rd MAU (Regimental Landing 
Team 4), with 6,042 men and 46 aircraft, a brigade 
in strength as well as name. This was the largest con- 
centration of amphibious forces during the Vietnam 
War, and the largest wartime amphibious force since 
the Inchon and Wonsan landings of the Korean War. 
The size of this force alone gave the North Vietnamese 
some concern about U.S. intentions. 32 

With the success of Song Than 5-72, the VNMC 
Division launched Song Than 6-72. The operation was 

"Twenty-two aircraft from six ships. 

**By3!July 1972, training and turnover was completed and the 
3d Redeye Platoon returned to the United States. 

in the same general location as the first, but closer to 
the coast where the NVA was using small boats to sup- 
ply its forward units. Again the object was to disrupt 
North Vietnamese forces and to relieve pressure on the 
My Chanh Line. The landing plan used a mix of 
brigade units under the 33d MAU's Colonel Perrich 
and HMM-164, ARG Bravo, and ARG Charlie support- 
ing the Vietnamese assault force. 33 On 23 May, the 7th 
VNMC Battalion loaded on the Cayuga and Duluth 
in preparation for landing. Helicopters from HMM-164 
filled available deck space for a single-wave launch.*** 
As they had in the previous assault, the Vietnamese 
Marines carried out this operation successfully. 
Helicopters brought Vietnamese casualties to the 
ships, demonstrating the reality of war to the Ameri- 
cans offshore. 

On 17 June, General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., Com- 
mandant of the Marine Corps, visited with III MAF 
commanders as part of his Western Pacific inspection 
trip, which included Vietnam. 34 Major David J. Moore, 
executive officer for HMM-164, flew General Miller 
into Da Nang, where they met General Cushman and 
took him to Hue and later to the Okinawa. Recalled 
Moore, "Because of the SA-7 threat, our trip to Hue 
was a bit more exciting than General Cushman ex- 
pected." 35 By then, the South Vietnamese in MR 1 had 
regained the initiative over the Communists. Lam Son 
72 was General Truong's plan to recapture portions 
of MR 1 lost at the beginning of the Easter Offensive 
and he directed the Vietnamese Airborne and Marine 
Divisions to attack north from the My Chanh River 
to seize a line along Route 602 from Hai Lang to Wun- 
der Beach. 

Across the Beach: The Lam Son Landings 

In support of Lam Son 72, Admiral Gaddis and 
General Miller assembled ARG Charlie with the 3lst 
MAU and ARG Alpha with the 33d MAU in a stag- 
ing area for preparations for a demonstration just north 
of the Cua Viet River.**** While in the staging area, 
the amphibious forces conducted a command post ex- 
ercise and, at the same time, attacked selected targets 
in the objective area with naval gunfire and tactical 
air strikes. The main enemy threat to this operation 
was from coastal artillery located on Hon (Tiger) Is- 
land. On 26 June, the amphibious task group was ac- 
tivated by Task Force 76 and a second rehearsal was 

***Twenty aircraft and 20 LVT5s from nine ships. USS Duluth, 
Cayuga, Okinawa, Schenectady, Sumter, Juneau, St. Louis, Mobile, 
and Manitowoc. 

****31st MAU: BLT 1/4, HMM-164. 33d MAU: BLT 1/9, 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A142278 
Not all hazards to flight were from the enemy. Mechanical failure claimed this UH-1 
from the USS Okinawa. The crew was recovered, but the aircraft was lost at sea. 

conducted, surface and ait attacks continued in the 
objective area, and South Vietnamese Navy landing 
craft loaded Vietnamese Marines at Tan My to join the 
task force. 

Following the amphibious demonstration of 27 
June, the 9th MAB prepared to continue Operation 
Lam Son 72 with a VNMC two-battalion helicopter 
assault into landing zones behind Communist lines 
on 29 June. At the same time, the remainder of the 
Vietnamese Marine Division launched a frontal attack 
from the My Chanh. American amphibious support 
to this phase of Lam Son 72 allowed the rapid advance 
of South Vietnamese forces to the outskirts of Quang 
Tri City. On 30 June, the President of South Vietnam, 
Nguyen Van Thieu, visited the USS Blue Ridge to con- 
vey his personal thanks to the sailors and Marines of 
the amphibious forces for "the preservation of Peace 
and Freedom" in South Vietnam. 36 

Another opportunity for a helicopter assault on the 
exposed Communist seaward flank occurred when 
strong NVA forces entrenched in the outskirts of 
Quang Tri City and to the south and east along the 
Vinh Dinh River stalled the South Vietnamese attack. 
General Troung and a new FRAC commander, Major 
General Howard H. Cooksey, decided on a two- 
battalion ground attack from the east supported by 
a heliborne assault from the west across the Vinh Dinh 

River to turn the NVA defenses. General Miller, and 
the new task force commander, Rear Admiral Wycliffe 
D. Toole, Jr., used combined brigade helicopter assets 
and Task Force 76 ships for a maximum buildup of 
combat power. The 31st MAU of Colonel Donald E. 
Newton and the 33d MAU of Colonel Robert J. Per- 
rich carried out the new assignment with the ex- 
perienced HMM-164 on the Okinawa and HMM-165 
from the Tripoli. At the planning conference for this 
operation at the VNMC division command post. 
Colonel Perrich pointed out that the use of a single 
helicopter squadron would require two separate lifts 
to complete and that a delay was in order until both 
squadrons were available on 11 July 1972. In the wake 
of this hard-won assault, General Cooksey requested 
Seventh Fleet's Vice Admiral James L. Holloway III to 
provide an alternate means to resupply VNMC units 
along the coast. The solution was the installation of 
a five-section causeway at Wunder Beach by the USS 
Alamo (LSD 33), by its Navy beachmasters and Ma- 
rine shore party. 

On 14 July, the VNMC continued its attacks on 
Quang Tri City in support of the ARVN Airborne Di- 
vision. On 22 July, Brigadier General Lan conducted 
a two-battalion ground movement, supported by tanks 
and artillery, attacking up the coast and linking with 
a third battalion making a heliborne assault 4,000 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800635 
RAdm Wycliffe D, Toole, Jr., Commander Task Force 
76, makes remarks to embarked staffs, while BGen Ed- 
ward J. Miller, Commander Task Group 79-1, looks on. 

meters to the north. General Miller and Admiral Toole 
used the 31st MAU and ARG Charlie ships to sup- 
port this, and Admiral Mack even ordered the USS 
Denver from operations with Task Force 77 to provide 
additional deck space for helicopter staging* After this 
operation, General Lan said that the 9th MAB and 
Task Force 76 support enabled the offensive to be 
launched withsuccess, citing the devastatingly accurate 
preparation fires by naval gunfire. According to Lan, 
the 9th MAB supported the multibattalion heliborne 
assaults with professional skill, courageous perfor- 
mance, and a timeliness "which allowed the VNMC 
forces to aggressively attack." 37 

A typhoon in the Philippines in July caused Ad- 
miral McCain to direct Admiral Holloway to provide 
relief to America's longtime Asian ally. The USS Blue 
Ridge, Tripoli, Juneau, Alamo, and Cayuga were 
diverted from combat operations in Vietnam to hu- 
manitarian service in the Philippines from 22 July 
through 13 August 1972. The 33d MAU remained on 
120-hout recall to MR 1 while conducting relief ac- 
tivities.** The MAU commander commented that the 
Matines of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. F. Egger's 
HMM-165 flew "their helicopters in near-zero visibil- 
ity to deliver emergency food supplies to people 
stranded in villages that were cut off . . . . BLT 2/4 
Matines worked under equally miserable conditions 
to provide assistance." 38 After a short period of train- 
ing and an amphibious exercise, the 33d MAU, now 
commanded by Colonel Charles T. Williamson, and 

*See Chapter 13. 
**The 33d MAU and subordinate units were awarded the Philip- 
pine Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts. 

the ARG Alpha ships proceeded to the Gulf of Tonkin 
to relieve the 31st MAU and ARG Charlie on 24 
August. 39 

General Mill er and the 9th MAB staff remained off 
the coast on the USS Paul Revere (LPA 248) while the 
South Vietnamese engaged in heavy fighting to retake 
Quang Tri City. Contingency and support planning 
continued through the month. Lieutenant Colonel 
Robert W. "Rip" Kirby, commanding BLT 2/4, made 
a liaison visit to the VNMC Division command post, 
in part a reunion with an Amphibious Warfare School 
classmate — General Lan. Kirby asked Lan about the 
tactical situation during the tough fighting at Quang 
Tri City, and the Vietnamese Marine general replied 
without pause, "I'm still using the yellows," referring 
to the doctrinal "school solutions" used by Marine 
Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia. 40 

Turnaway at Quang Tri 

More specific planning began in August 1972 at the 
request of General Abrams and FRAC's General Cook- 
sey. The object was to draw NVA units away from 
Quang Tri City and to the northeast. General Truong 

Some hazards came from maritime weather, as with 
typhoon conditions that required rotor blades to be 
removed to prevent wind damage on the USS Tripoli. 

Department of Defense Photo (USN) 1157103 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800671 
The Spring Offensive ended for the Seventh Fleet's amphibious forces as it began, with 
the amphibious ready groups underway in the Gulf of Tonkin- A Marine helicopter flies 
past the USS Juneau and USS Paul Revere underway in a holding area off the DMZ. 

believed an amphibious demonstration on, or about, 
1 September would accomplish this. When this was 
not approved in time by CinCPac, another amphibi- 
ous demonstration was requested to take place be- 
tween the Cua Viet River and the DMZ for the 
following week. As with deceptions, the fact the land- 
ing was to be a demonstration was kept from both 
American and South Vietnamese participating forces. 

On 6 September, Admiral Toole and General Miller 
using ARG transports with the 33d MAU* occupied 
the amphibious holding area off the DMZ. They con- 
ducted communication tests, fired naval gunfire, and 
began tactical air attacks in the objective area, includ- 
ing Tiger Island and Cap Lay. On 7 September, Viet- 
namese ships and the USS Juneau (LPD 10) embarked 
400 ARVN Rangers from Tan My for the surface as- 
sault. Naval gunfire and tactical air continued hitting 
the objective area. On 8 September the amphibious 
task group was activated and rehearsals began. Air 
Force B-52s and naval gunfire struck enemy targets; 
South Vietnamese field artillery reinforced the Ameri- 
can fires. The turnaway was completed on 9 Septem- 

*BLT 2/4 and HMM-165. 

ber without incident and the amphibious forces 
returned to the off-shore holding areas. 

Marine and naval officers continued liaison with I 
Corps, FRAC, and MACV, but the task force provid- 
ed no further direct combat support after October 
1972. Both the North and South Vietnamese units 
juggled for tactical ground and political bargaining 
positions during the continuing Paris Peace Talks, 
while 9th MAB and Task Force 76 remained off the 
coast. The 9th MAB's backing of the VNMC and 
FRAC helped to recapture Quang Tri City and denied 
North Vietnamese military and political objectives in 
MR 1. Throughout, the Marines and sailors of the 9th 
Marine Amphibious Brigade, seabased with Task Force 
76, contributed their full share to the total naval op- 
tions available to the Seventh Fleet in response to the 
North Vietnamese offensive. The Seventh Fleet com- 
mander stated the response of all ships and units to 
the surge in Seventh Fleet operations caused by the 
invasion of the Republic of Vietnam had been 
noteworthy in every sense of the word. 41 Added were 
the comments of General Cushman, CMC that "I am 
happy to see that in each instance Marines met the 
challenges head-on in an outstanding manner." 42 


Any Time, Any Place 

The Storm Breaks— Marine Air Responds— Support to the Air Force, MAG-15 Operations 
Support to the Air Force, MAG-12 Operations— Task Force Delta— The Rose Garden Grows 

The Storm Breaks— Marine Air Responds 

While the 30 March 1972 offensive affected all Ma- 
rines in Southeast Asia, especially those with the 
Seventh Fleet, it directly triggered the movement of 
major Marine aircraft units back into Southeast Asia 
to reinforce the Seventh Air Force. Major General 
Robert G. Owens, Jr.'s 1st Marine Aircraft Wing {1st 
MAW) provided critical attack, fighter, electronic 
warfare, and support aircraft needed to augment U.S. 
air strength in South Vietnam and Thailand. Marine 
helicopter and fixed-wing units of the Seventh Fleet 
were already off the coast of Vietnam as other units 
from the 1st MAW entered the region. The wing first 
organized a large and potent force at its bases in main- 
land Japan and on Okinawa. 1 The 3 April dispatch 
from Japan of a detachment from Marine Composite 
Reconnaissance Squadron (VMCJ) 1 to the Naval Air 
Station, Cubi Point, Philippines, marked the begin- 
ning of the reentry of Marine high-performance air- 
craft to combat in Vietnam. 

At FMFPac, Lieutenant General William K. Jones 
had correctly reasoned that while it was unlikely that 
American ground troops would be recommitted to the 
fighting, an immediate buildup of tactical air would 
occur. General Jones, with the CinCPac staff, believed 
the best response to MACV and South Vietnam's need 
for more air support would be made by the dual- 
mission, extended-range, McDonnell Douglas F-4 
Phantom jets of the 1st MAW. The Phantom was used 
by both the Navy and the Air Force, which made 
logistical support of these planes easier than for other 
Marine aircraft types, but as Marine Fighter Attack 
Squadron (VMFA) 212's Lieutenant Colonel Richard 
D. Revie observed, they had "very few compatible 
parts" and even flew different-model aircraft in his 
squadron's case. 2 On 5 April, General Owens received 
notification from III MAF's Lieutenant General Louis 
Metzger to deploy, on order from JCS and CinCPac, 
two Phantom squadrons to Vietnam to support the 
Seventh Air Force. General Owens directed VMFA-115 
and VMFA-232 to deploy for "training" to Cubi Point; 
from there they were in position to respond rapidly 
to the developing situation in South Vietnam. 3 

Overseeing the regional air buildup was CinCPac, 

Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., and his staff. Previous 
air operations against North Vietnam were part of 
CinCPac 's Operation Rolling Thunder, which had be- 
gun in 1965 and continued until the bombing halt 
of 1968. After this date, U.S. aircraft operations over 
North Vietnam were limited to armed reconnaissance, 
combat air patrol, and protective-reaction sorties. Air 
attacks continued on Laos, Cambodia, and South Viet- 
nam with increased intensity through the 1972 fight- 
ing. Marine air was fitted into Navy and Air Force 
command and control structures evolved over the long 
course of the war. The Southeast Asia Tactical Data 
System allowed the Air Force's Airborne Tactical Data 
System and the Navy's Tactical Data System to ex- 
change information over the whole of Southeast Asia 
and the Tonkin Gulf. This enabled tactical com- 
manders to control airspace to rendezvous and refuel, 
and to coordinate with surface and air units. 

Together with an interface of aircraft, the Air Force 
and Navy organized common control measures, with 
the region divided into tactical control areas or route 
"packages." General John W. Vogt, Jr.'s Seventh Air 
Force was responsible to General Abrams' MACV for 
operations in South Vietnam and into Route Package 
(RP) 1* General Vogt reported to Pacific Air Force's 
General Lucius D. Clay for Route Packages 5 and 6a. 
On the Navy side, Vice Admiral Damon W. Cooper 
of Task Force 77 answered to Vice Admiral William 
P. Mack for Seventh Fleet's Route Packages 2, 3, 4, and 
6b. A further division existed between the daytime 
bombing of point targets by the Navy and Air Force 
and nighttime area bombing by Strategic Air Com- 
mand B-52s from Guam and Thailand. 

Support to the Air Force, MAG-15 Operations 

Reinforcement of Seventh Air Force by 1st MAW be- 
gan with the movement of air units to Cubi Point and 
ended with an eventual commitment of an unofficial 
total of 4,895 Marines and 120 aircraft. The staging 
of 12 F-4Bs and 15 F-4Js allowed the 1st MAW com- 
mander to deploy his units at short notice. 4 The lead 

*General Vogt was "double-hatted" in April 1972 as Deputy Com- 
mander for Air Operations, MACV. In June 1972 he also became 
Deputy Commander, MACV, as well as Commanding General, 
Seventh Air Force. 




105 s 

Marine Air Operations 

kilometers i- 

mag-12 ' China Sea 

1 10 1 


Adapted from Naval Historical Center Material 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A422878 
McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom fighter-bombers of "VMFA-1D were among the initial 
aircraft from MAG-15 to arrive in Da Nang after III MAF air power was committed in 
response to the Communist Spring Offensive- A workhorse aircraft, it was used by Ma- 
rine, Air Force, and Navy squadrons. The tail letters "VE" indicate its squadron. 

aircraft touched down at Da Nang on 6 April within 
hours of the orders from 1st MAW. This rapid arrival in 
Vietnam drew the praise of The White House, the sur- 
prise of the Air Force, and the vexation of the Japanese 
government for supposedly departing for Vietnam 
from Japanese bases without prior notification.* 5 

The first Phantoms of Lieutenant Colonel Kent A. 
McFerren's VMFA-115 "Silver Eagles" and Lieutenant 
Colonel Joe L. Gregorcyck's VMFA-232 "Red Devils" 
landed on Da Nang's 10,000-foot runway four hours 
and 5 5 minutes after being ordered from the Philip- 
pines. The airlift of necessary support personnel and 
equipment took another four days for a total of 26 
aircraft, 984 Marines, and 2,099,702 pounds of cargo. 
While reinforcing Air Force wings in South Vietnam, 
the Marine squadrons remained under the control of 
Colonel Keith O'Keefe's Marine Aircraft Group 
(MAG) 15 (Forward). Subordinate units were Head- 
quarters and Maintenance Squadron (H&MS) 15, Ma- 
rine Air Base Squadron (MABS) 15, and the two flying 
squadrons. Marines in MAG-15 met Vietnamization 
troop levels by being in temporary additional duty sta- 

*General Metzger takes exception to FMFPac records of Japanese 
vexation, commenting that all deployments from Japanese bases 
were to areas other rhan Vietnam. Once underway, or after arrival 
at inrermediare bases, unir movement was rhen approved to Viet- 
nam. American commanders in Japan "were well aware of this con- 
cern and were careful to comply with this policy" of Japan not being 
involved in U.S. operations in Vietnam. (Metzger Commenrs) 

tus while in Vietnam, thus avoiding manpower res- 

Colonel O'Keefe found the situation changed in the 
short 10 months since MAG-15 had departed Vietnam 
under agreed-upon troop reductions. Weather and ter- 
rain remained the same, but the flying required to 
stem the flow of North Vietnamese forces was quite 
different. After an initial period of maneuver, battle 
lines became fixed and identifiable from the air as ene- 
my and friendly areas. In northern MR 1 were the 
mixed elements of the enemy B-5 Front, including the 
304th, 308th, and 324B NVA Divisions, and a num- 
ber of separate infantry and sapper units. 8 These heav- 
ily concentrated men and machines were "troops in 
the open" targets, but also presented a greater risk to 
flyers from the massed antiaircraft weapons accom- 
panying them. The North Vietnamese employed an- 
tiaircraft weapons in quantity to compensate for a lack 
of air support. Not only were heavy antiaircraft guns 
moved south of the Demilitarized Zone, but also a 
new threat emerged in the form of the shoulder-fired 
SA-7, the Soviet-produced "Grail," which knocked 
down 27 allied aircraft in 1972, one of which was a 
jet plane.** Aircraft near the DMZ were also targets 

**The missile was also known by rhe Sovier designarion "Strel- 
la" or arrow. Basically, this threat required helicopters ro fly lower 
and fixed-wing aircraft to fly higher than before. Some 27 allied 
aircraft were downed, compared to a reported 351 SA-7 missile 
launchings during this period. 



Adapted from Task Force Delta Material 



for SA-2 "Guideline" missiles launched from just in- 
side North Vietnam. 7 Flying from Da Nang, MAG-15 
lost two F-4s and a TA-4 to these defenses in the strug- 
gle to regain lost territory in South Vietnam. 6 

Despite the desperate situation in MR 1, combat 
operations for MAG-15 did not start until pilots had 
received in-country indoctrination from the Seventh 
Air Force in compliance with General Abrams' direc- 
tives* Preparations completed, combat flights began 
on 9 April with close air support missions in MR 1 
to defend Hue. In the transition between the north- 
east and southwest monsoon seasons, the weather 
hampered the Marine missions. Even so, Marine air- 
craft flew both close and general support in MR 1 near 
Dong Ha, Quang Tri, and Hue, and in MR 2 near Plei- 
ku, Kontum, and Phu Cat. 9 This support included 
bomb, napalm, rocket, and strafe attacks within 200 
yards of ground forces.** 

Additional fightet-bombers arrived on 14 April with 
12 F-4Js of Lieutenant Colonel Revie's VMFA-212 
"Lancers" from Hawaii. On 16 April, five H&MS-15 
McDonnell Douglas TA-4Fs came from Japan. These 
Skyhawks were used for air and naval gunfire spotting 
missions north of the DMZ. Known as "Fast FACs," 
the TA-4 detachment flew ANGLICO air observers as 
naval gunfire spotters and forward air controllers over 
MR 1 and North Vietnam in areas denied to slower 
aircraft by antiaircraft fire. Fast-FAC missions soon in- 
creased to four each day and continued at that rate 
until the North Vietnamese shore-based defenses 
caused the naval gunfire strikes to be conducted at 
night.*** 10 

The NVA invasion found the allied air effort in a 
period of transition from U.S. Air Force to Vietnamese 
Air Force control. The Tactical Air Control System and 
Air Ground Operations System operated at reduced 
levels from the peak of the American involvement, 
reflecting differences between American and Viet- 
namese resources. While the direct air support centers 
and corps-level tactical operations centers were ade- 
quate, the tactical air control specialists at division and 

indoctrination included learning rules of engagement, commu- 
nications procedures, and escape and evasion plans, and receiving 
friendly and enemy situation briefs. 

**"More like 50 meters" observed Lieutenant General Leslie E. 
Brown (Brown Comments). 

***FMFPac records 87 sorties flown; CNA lists 90. By 3 May 1972, 
Seventh Fleet and TF 77 felt there was a lack of effective employ- 
ment to justify the continued use of the TA-4s. Problems encoun- 
tered were similar to those of helicopter NGF spotting attempts 
described in Chapter 10 

lower unit levels were "generally unsatisfactory by Ma- 
rine Corps standards."" Available ANGLICO person- 
nel and advisors were spread thin on the ground and 
also had to fulfill the roles of forward air controllers. 
Mission fragging authority resided with General John 
W. Vogt, Jr., Commanding General of Seventh Air 
Force, who also was MACV Deputy Commander for 
Air Operations. The 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at 
Da Nang provided tactical control, with terminal 
guidance and support requests by the USAF 20th Tac- 
tical Air Support Squadron and the Vietnamese 1st 
Air Division, collocated in the I Corps Direct Air Sup- 
port Center (I DASC) and Control and Reporting 
Center at Da Nang. Typically, MAG-15 would inform 
the Air Force of the number of sorties it expected to 
fly the following day. Lieutenant Colonel Revie of 
VMFA-212 recalled that the Air Force then scheduled 
targets and take-off times, as they had for years "with 
little flexibility." Following normal briefings and air- 
craft preflight procedures, the aircraft proceeded to 
the target area where the pilot would "link up" with 
the FAC who controlled the strike on specific targets. 
Greater use was made of Air Force and ANGLICO air- 
borne controllers to compensate for the deficiency in 
ground control. For unplanned requirements, aircraft 
were diverted from scheduled missions. Under this sys- 
tem the sortie rate remained constant regardless of the 
ground situation. 

A study of this air employment by the Marine Corps 
Operations Analysis Group of the Center for Naval 
Analyses in 1973 concluded "that Marine Corps tactical 
air was not used as effectively as it might have been had 
the Marines been fully supported with their own com- 
mand and control system," especially in the close air 
support role. 12 The Marines felt there was a better way 
to do business. Colonel O'Keefe believed that close air 
support target assignments of 1,500 meters from 
friendly units were being used out of ignorance of Ma- 
rine capability to hit safely closer to friendly forces. 
Another difference, under the Air Force system, was 
that final control remained with the pilot in the air- 
craft while the Marines placed it with the commander 
on the ground. All of this was compounded by lan- 
guage difficulties when Vietnamese forces were sup- 

At Da Nang, base defense was the responsibility of 
the South Vietnamese and U.S. Air Force Security 
Police "ground defense forces." Already, 11 Communist 
attacks by fire had been launched against four South 
Vietnamese air bases, inflicting 97 casualties and 
damaging 17 aircraft. Seven of these attacks were 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A66067 
Concerns about enemy action against the Marine avi- 
ation units were from standoff and infiltration attacks. 
These abandoned Soviet-built rockets were found at 
a launch site five miles southwest of Da Nang. 

against the Da Nang Air Base. 13 MAG-15 was vulner- 
able to the "standoff' attacks and sapper raids by NVA 
or VC units. Internal security was MAG-15's responsi- 
bility, but the air and ground crews were working 
around-the-clock with flight operations. Colonel 
O'Keefe requested additional support. Concerned with 
MAG-15 and also the eventual security of MAG-12, 
General Metzger ordered Major General Joseph C. Fe- 
gan's 3d Marine Division to provide security forces 
from the division's alert units or from the 9th MAB. 
The task of providing combat forces to the air groups 
in Vietnam was assigned to 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, 
which was III MAFs Air Contingency Battalion, then 
on 24-hour standby on Okinawa. Forces were provid- 
ed on a "temporary" basis to accommodate person- 
nel ceilings and because "it would be good 
training."* 14 Lieutenant Colonel Ronald A. Clark's 
battalion had been "chaffing at the bit" about being 
in the rear during the 9th MAB buildup. This new 
assignment was referred to cryptically as "the mission." 
The 3d Battalion was going to Vietnam. 

Meanwhile, Major General Leslie E. Brown, the new 
1st MAW commander, believed that the Seventh Air 
Force did not make efficient use of MAG-15 because 
of adherence to fixed flight schedules that kept the 

*This also served 10 avoid the appearance of "The Marines have 
landed" for political reasons in an election year, and also demon- 
strated respect for Thai sensibilities. 

Marine Aircraft Group 15 Command Chronology 
At the receiving end of a rocket attack, GySgt Floyd 
J. Beem, of MAG-15, is standing in a 122mm rocket 
crater near the Marine billeting area at Da Nang. The 
rocket was one of approximately 12 launched by the 
Communists which hit the airbase on 24 April 1972. 

Marine sortie rate down.** As a result, on 28 April, 
General Brown proposed to General Metzger that 
MAG-15 augment the Navy's TF 77 combat air patrol 
requirements with four sorties a day. 15 While sortie rate 
had operational applications, it was also viewed by 
analysts, especially at theJCS level, as an important 
indication of readiness and effectiveness. The rate was 
greatly influenced by other factors such as combat de- 
mands, weather, policies for scheduling, and location. 
General Brown also cautioned against mistaking sortie 
rate, bomb damage assessments, and bombing ton- 
nage for effectiveness against the enemy, as the air 
strikes were in high threat areas where post-strike ob- 
servation was impractical— obscured by smoke and not 
verified by ground units. And finally, there was a de- 
pendence upon airborne forward air controllers who 
operated under different limitations than did ground- 
based tactical air control parties. 16 

While MAG-15 flew daily combat missions in MR 1 
and MR 2, 1st MAW prepared plans in May to move 
the group to another location. A compelling consider- 
ation was the possible loss of MR 1 with the fall of 
Quang Tri City and the subsequent Communist drive 

"Sortie rate is the average number of combat missions flown 
per aircraft per day. 



Marine Aircraft Group 15 Command Chronology 
During a command visit, Ma/Gen Leslie E. Brown, 1st MAW Commanding General, speaks 
with Col Keith O 'Keefe of MAG-15 about conditions in South Vietnam at Da Nang. 

on Hue. 17 As additional Air Force units arrived from 
the United States, Marine squadrons were logical can- 
didates for withdrawal from Vietnam* The situation 
in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, however, did not per- 
mit the Marine air units to return to their home sta- 
tions; most units were redeployed within the region 
to continue the support of the South Vietnamese. The 
question faced by General Metzger and the 1st MAW 
commander, General Brown, was "where?"** When 
this was decided, the "how" took care of itself. 

While this was underway, the situation in Quang 
Tri and Bien Hoa Provinces required General Metzger 
to move security forces to South Vietnam. On 25 May, 
the advance party of the 9th Marines arrived at Da 
Nang to protect MAG-15. By 4 June, 365 Marines of 
Companies M and L, 9th Marines were deployed as 
ground security forces. The Marine infantrymen did 

*From the June 1972 ceiling of 60,000 Americans in Vietnam, 
MACV allocated the Marines 1,383 billets, a number to be reached 
by 1 July. 

**FMFPac's General Jones had been General Brown's battalion 
commander in World War II, when General Brown had been an 
infantry officer. 

not have long to settle in, as MAG-15 (Forward) was 
scheduled to vacate Da Nang by 15 June for 
Thailand.*** 1 " 

Support to the Air Force, MAG-12 Operations 

The North Vietnamese attack towards Saigon in 
April resulted in the fall of Loc Ninh and a "siege" 
of the provincial capital, An Loc. There was a single 
squadron of Air Force Cessna A-37 Dragonflies to sup- 
port operations in MR 3, other air support coming 
from TF 77 aircraft carriers and from Thailand. The 
situation at An Loc required dedicated close air sup- 
port aircraft and this requirement was met by the de- 
pendable A-4E Skyhawks of Marine Aircraft Group 
12 (Forward). Soon after 1st MAW deployed fighters 
to Da Nang, General Metzger issued a warning order 
to General Brown to send squadrons to Bien Hoa Air 
Base north of Saigon. 16 Lieutenant Colonel Willis E. 
Wilson's "Avengers" of Marine Attack Squadron 
(VMA) 211 and Lieutenant Colonel Kevin M. John- 

***Replacement personnel for Companies L and M were made 
from 3rd Marine Division to MAG-15. Company I remained with 
MAG-12 at Bien Hoa until its departure from Vietnam in 1973. 



Photo courtesy of LtCol Michael S. Kelly, USMC (Ret) 
Other Marine aircraft support arrived with these McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks from 
VMA-311 with MAG-12. MAG-12 moved onto an existing Air Force base with developed 
facilities. These included reveled flight line and hangars and prepared defenses. 

ston's "Tomcats" of VMA-311 were sent "on a training 
mission" to forward bases in the Philippines in antic- 
ipation of going to Vietnam. 20 This began the second 
major deployment of 1st MAW aircraft on indepen- 
dent operations, providing support to embattled MR 3 
and An Loc. 

General Brown issued movement orders on 16 May 
for 10 A-4s at Naval Air Station Cubi Point and 22 
aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Iwaku- 
ni. Commitment orders were sent on 17 May. That 
same day Marine Skyhawks came up on TACAN* 
Channel 73 of "BNH" and began the approach to Bien 
Hoa's 10,000-foot runway, the first of 32 A-4s to ar- 
rive "in country."** Supporting elements of MAG-12 
followed with Military Airlift Command (MAC) C-141 
and C-130 flights delivering 870 Marines and materi- 
al of H&MS-12 and MABS-12 Detachments. General 
Brown remembered the MAC airplanes arriving at 
Iwakuni literally "from all over the world. It was an 
absolutely superior performance." 21 

With a crisis at hand, the Marines of MAG-12 found 
themselves fully committed to the defense of Saigon. 22 

Tactical air navigation (TACAN), ultra-high frequency, pulse- 
type, omni-directional range and distance measuring equipment 
used in air control. 

**As with the MAG-15 move, MAG-12's sooner-than-expected 
appearance "in country" was noticed by JCS and others in the chain 
of command. 

fortunately Bien Hoa Air Base was a fully developed 
Vietnamese and U.S. Air Force base with support fa- 
cilities, reveted parking aprons, and rocket resistant 
"Wonder-Arch" hangars.*** Flight indoctrination by 
the USAF 8th Special Operations Squadron at Bien 
Hoa started that day with orientation flights over MR 
3 in Air Force A-37s. Lieutenant Colonel Wilson not- 
ed the first death of a group pilot "on one of these 
orientation/strike missions." 23 

A gradual buildup of the group's sortie rate began 
on 19 May and reached 36 flights a day by the end 
of the month. 24 As did their fellow Marines in 
MAG-15, the aircrews of MAG-12 found themselves 
confronted by a variety of singular missions and situ- 
ations. Three NVA divisions were advancing upon the 
provincial capital of An Loc. Enemy forces included 
the 3th, 7th, and 9th NVA Divisions, 33d NVA In- 
fantry Regiment, 274th VC Regiment, and the 74B 
NVA Regiment? 5 The Communist use of conventional 
military forces resulted in a plethora of targets, includ- 
ing fixed positions, vulnerable road and bridge net- 
works, and exposed logistical areas. There were tanks 
and armored personnel carriers, as well as the ubiqui- 
tous SA-7 and other antiaircraft weapons in locations 
and densities not experienced heretofore in Vietnam. 

***The "bonder Arch" hangars were constructed from pre- 
fabricated metal frames covered with sprayed-on concrete to pro- 
vide overhead protection to aircraft and maintenance facilities. 



Photo courtesy of LtCol Michael S. Kelly, USMC (Ret) 
The main threats, after enemy antiaircraft defenses, were from standoff and infiltration 
attacks. Enemy rockets hit a Butler building used by MAG-12's supply section. The Com- 
munist "rocket belt" was located in areas supposedly under South Vietnamese control. 

The 3d Regional Assistance Command under Major 
General James E Hollingsworth, USA, at Long Binh 
and the ARVN III Corps and 3d Air Division at Bien 
Hoa controlled operations. The MAG suppotted the 
5th ARVN Division, 21st ARVN Division, 3d ARVN 
Ranger Group, and the 3d ARVN Armored Brigade. 
Air control was by the DASC ar Bien Hoa, the TACC at 
Tan Son Nhut, and by the 21st Air Support Squadron 
and VNAF flying airborne FACs our of Tan Son Nhut. 
MAG-12's mission was part of a massive employment 
of ractical air power that included B-52, AC-130, A-37, 
A-lE, F-4, and helicopter gunships of the American 
and Vietnamese forces. This requited "superhuman" 
efforts on the part of airborne ait controllers to manage 
ftom their light observarion aircraft, which, accord- 
ing to General Brown, they did "like real Pros."* 26 

American aircraft provided close and direct air sup- 
port using bombs, rockets, and cannon. The highly 
maneuverable A-4, with speed and stability, was the 
ideal aitctaft for accurate and tesponsive close air sup- 
port. The ARVN defenders of An Loc and theit Ameri- 
can advisors praised rhe Marine air support which 

*For example, 1,077 fighter-bomber sorties had been allocated 
by MACV to An Loc and MR 3 alone from 11 through 14 May 1972. 

continued until other ARVN units teopened highway 
QL-13, labeled the "Road of Death" by the Com- 
munists. 27 Mosr operations were ftom 5 to 50 miles 
from Bien Hoa. MAG-12 's Colonel Dean C. Macho 
recalled at times "... it was common to see, heat, 
and feel air sttikes flown by MAG-12 A-4s as close as 
three to five miles from the field." This served as an 
incentive to the Marines who kept the aircraft flying. 26 
Later, air operations expanded to covet MR 4 and Cam- 
bodia. Opetarions were even flown to MR 2 with rhe 
addition of a second external fuel rank and a reduced 
bomb load, or aerial refueling. 

Because of the proximity of the fighting and the 
continued withdrawal of neighboring American units, 
Colonel Macho considered ground defense of the base 
to be his number-one problem. The lack of ground 
forces and rhe constant threat of rocket attacks could 
not be adequately countered by his Marines. 29 At the 
tequest of 1st MAW, General Metzger ordered a rifle 
company from 3d Battalion, 9th Marines sent TAD 
(temporary additional duty) to Bien Hoa for 90 days. 
On 21 May, five officers and 161 Marines of Company 
K, 9th Marines found themselves part of MAG-12. 
Captain Nathaniel R. Hoskot, Jr., and his company 
began their stay by moving the company into prepared 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A422968 
Air operations require maintenance and support to be effective. Here a Headquarters 
and Maintenance Squadron 12 ordnance man loads a MK82 500-pound bomb on an A-4. 

defensive positions, setting up crew-served weapons, 
and securing the group atea. If needed, the South 
Vietnamese were to provide supporting-arms fire. By 
way of a welcome, on 23 May, the enemy struck 
MAG-12 with its first rocket attack. 

MAG-12's sortie rate increased to 52 sorties a day 
in July. 30 Generals Abrams and Vogt requested that 
VMA-211 and VMA-J11 be retained in Vietnam 
despite continuing withdrawals of American forces. 31 
The sortie and availability rate was the direct result 
of the support and maintenance efforts of MAG-12 
ground crews. These Marines kept the planes in the 
air with a 12-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week effort. 
Sergeant Warren F. Winn, an ordnance man with 
VMA-211, explained the accomplishment; 

. . . when we first arrived here and weren't in the groove 
of working together we had a hell of a time keeping up. As 
soon as we would load a plane they'd take it away and we'd 
start all over from scratch. Now working as a team, we are 
able to stay just one step ahead no marrer what. 32 

Lieutenant General William K. Jones commented that 
"Performance of this excellence does not just happen, 
it results from superior leadership, a high degree of 
professional competence, team work and a lor of hard 
work." 33 

MAG-12's effort was not lost on the Communists, 
who subjected the Bien Hoa Air Base to continuing 
attacks beginning in August in an effort to disrupt 

flight operations. 34 The heaviest attack consisted of 101 
rockets on 1 August 1972 that killed one Marine, 
wounded six others, and damaged the MAG-12 sup- 
ply, headquarters, and operarions areas. 35 The Viet- 
namese and Americans repaired the runway, and 
flights, although delayed, continued. Since the rock- 
ets had come from the north, the pilots took off and 
worked over an area five miles north of the base that 
day. The attack had reminded the group of the value 
of dispersion and individual security measures and 
resulted in a major effort to sandbag wotking and liv- 
ing spaces* 

The group logistics officer, Major Angelo M, Inglisa, 
wrote rhar it was surprising the attack was not more 
damaging: "The NVA/ VC apparently tried to use the 
rockets as artillery and aimed for point targets," rather 
than employing the rockets "as area weapons as 
designed." He reflected a belief held within MAG-12 
that civilian contract construction workers had surveyed 
rhe base for the Communists to locate targets prior 
ro the attack. 38 

On 10 August, the initial elements of Company I, 
9th Marines arrived to assume the group security mis- 
sion from Company K, which was rerurned ro Okina- 

*Of the more than 800 rockets that hit Bien Hoa over the nine- 
month period, 417 rockers hit in the MAG-12 area, killing two and 
wounding eight Marines; six A-4s were damaged. 



wa. Captain Michael S. Kelly, the company com- 
mander, understood that this rotation of units would 
occur every few months, but events proved otherwise 
and his company stayed with MAG-12 until the end. 
Base defense was a "tripartite" affair with the Viet- 
namese Air Force Base Defense Force, the U.S. Air 
Force Security Police Squadron, and the Marine Secu- 
rity Element of MAG-12. Kelly wrote that "I worked 
closely with Colonel Dean Macho and our Air Force 
Security Police counterparts to enhance base securi- 
ty." 37 "India 3/9" brought with them a section of mor- 
tars, trucks, and a detachment from the 3d Marine 
Division's Sensor Control and Management Platoon. 
According to Captain Kelly, they "used various types of 
surveillance devices to enhance base security, specifi- 
cally outside the ammunition dump." The mission was 
tedious, but necessary, and these ground Marines 
"learned the tough tasks that the 'air-wing' Marines 
had." 3 * 

The adjacent VNAF ordnance dump blew up on 
10 September, wounding four Marines and damaging 
the MAG-12 supply building with the blast and 

debris. 39 Unable to determine the cause of this dis- 
aster, Colonel Macho nevertheless organized additional 
reaction forces of two 30-man "platoons" made up of 
maintenance and support personnel. These ad hoc 
units deployed at night in billeting and flight-line 
areas. Four A-4s were kept armed and fueled on 
15 -minute strip alert for support. With these precau- 
tions, the air war continued. 

For Captain James P. "Waldo" Walsh of VMA-211, 
26 September began as other days at Bien Hoa. The 
26-year-old A-4 pilot from Hartford, Connecticut, had 
been flying combat missions with his squadron since 
arriving in Vietnam in June. His mission was to hit 
the heart of enemy-held territory near An Loc, the 
Quan Loi Airfield, an area known by MAG-12 pilots 
for the density of antiaircraft fire ranging from small 
arms to 37mm AAA. After preflight and take-off, 
Captain Walsh and his wingman met the airborne FAC 
near the operating area and were given a target. 

As Walsh pulled out of his bomb run, his A-4E was 
hit by multiple rounds of gunfire. The Skyhawk shook 
uncontrollably and the controls went slack. When his 

Marine infantry and supporting units were attached to the aircraft groups to provide a 
degree of security and close-in defense. At Bien Hoa, these men from 3d Battalion, 9th 
Marines prepared defenses including seismic intrusion devices for early warning. 

Photo courtesy of LtCol Michael S. Kelly, USMC (Ret) 



instrument panel warning lights went red, Walsh in- 
stinctively pulled his ejection handle. According to a 
Marine report, the "stricken A-4 was emitting sheets 
of flame from the tailpipe and had pitched violently 
nose down as the pilot ejected." With a good parachute 
canopy overhead, he looked around at the rapidly ap- 
proaching rubber plantation for signs of the NVA and 
for a "lay-up" position to take until help could arrive. 
The FAC lost sight of Captain Walsh's parachute as 
it disappeared through the tree tops. With no visual 
contact and only an intermittent "beeper" radio sig- 
nal, the SAR helicopter recovery team had little to go 
on when it arrived. The lead helicopter was struck by 
ground fire and turned back from the area and with 
approaching darkness the SAR effort was postponed. 
Local thunderstorms even drove the airborne FAC away 
from Quon Loi that night. 40 

Captain Walsh hit the ground in the middle of a 
Communist campsite. Shrugging out of his parachute 
harness, he dodged through the rubber trees for about 
100 meters before being surrounded and trapped. In 
this standoff he had a single choice, surrender or die. 
Later he made a brief attempt to escape by diving un- 
derwater during a stream crossing. A Communist sold- 
ier waited for him to surface and took him prisoner. 
Captain Walsh was listed as missing in action by his 
squadron. Walsh, however, was neither missing nor 
dead, he was the last Marine to be captured by the 
North Vietnamese Communists.* 41 

Anticipated ground artacks at Bien Hoa failed to 
materialize, but on 22 October, the Communists fired 
61 rockets onto the base. Colonel Macho considered 
the group's effort at civic action to be a factor in limit- 
ing attacks on the base. Based upon MAG-12's previ- 
ous experience at Chu Lai, the group provided support 
to a local orphanage and children's hospital at Ke-Sat. 42 

Fall weather hindered the bombing effort and re- 
quired using Air Force LORAN, TACAN, and other 
expedients, to put ordnance on target. Maintenance 
crews activated a then-dormant avionics component 
of the A-4E, first in VMA-211 and then VMA-311. A 
combination of training and maintenance with this 
system allowed continued support during periods of 
reduced visibility by enabling the aircraft to pull out 
of high-angle dives at 6,000 feet. 43 

Marine Aircraft Group 12 flew its 10,000th combat 
sortie on 9 December 1972, after having averaged 49 
combat sorties a day over a seven-month period. By 

"Captain Walsh was released by the Communists in 1973. See 
Chapter 15. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A703153 

The value of good relations with the local people was 
a lesson brought back to Vietnam by the returning 
Marines. SSgt Frank H. Peace ofMAG-12 fills the fuel 
tank of a generator that supplied electricity to theKe- 
Sat Orphanage near Bien Hoa. The generator had been 
reconditioned by the Marines as a good will project. 

year's end, MAG-12 had completed combat operations, 
flying 12,574 combat sorties totalling 15,214 hours and 
dropping 18,903 tons of ordnance. Combat losses in- 
cluded three A-4s, and three Marines killed, one miss- 
ing, and 11 wounded. 44 Secretary of the Navy John 
W. Warner cited MAG-12's efforts during the battles 
to defend Hue, Kontum, and An Loc, when the group 
"provided close air support within fifty meters of 
friendly positions, contributing materially to the suc- 
cess of the allied effort in these campaigns." 45 
Task Force Delta 
While MAG-15 and MAG-12 conducted operations 
from Da Nang and Bien Hoa, the 1st MAW complet- 
ed efforts to relocate a portion of these units outside 
of South Vietnam. Initial relocation sites included 
Udorn, Ubon, and Utapao in Thailand. These bases 
were operating at maximum capacity with Air Force 
units, and the search also considered other locations. 
Fifteen miles northeast of the town of Khon Kaen, 
Thailand, was a 10,000-foot concrete runway built by 
the U.S. Air Force in 1967. Used as an emergency land- 
ing field and little else, it was situated centrally 340 
miles west of Da Nang and 300 miles southwest of 
Hanoi. General Brown recalled: 

. . when we started gluing this thing together, there were 
just three or four guys who were in on it from the begin- 
ning. Brigadier General [Andrew W.) Andy O'Donnell, who 
was my assistant wing commander at the time, and a cou- 
ple of other guys asking each other where the hell is Nam 
Phong? So we spread out the maps on the floor of my office 



Task Borce Delta Command Chronology 
This U.S. Air Force reconnaissance photograph taken 
in 1969 was used by 1st MAW to plan MAG-15 's move 
to Thailand in May 1972. It showed the airstrip and 
parking ramp, which provided the "bare base" from 
which the Marines operated within the month. 

and got down on our hands and knees and finally located 
the place.* 46 

Maps and old intelligence reports indicated to 
General Brown that "there just wasn't anything there." 
There was no power, little water, fuel would have to 
come from the ports at Utapao and Sattahip by truck, 
and it was barely within flying range of MR 1 for 
MAG-15's fighters. From General Brown's perspective 
"... All the place had really was a runway and noth- 
ing else except a lot of rain, a lot of heat, and a lot 
of logistical problems to be resolved." 47 The location 
did have a greater degree of physical security than Da 
Nang, was large enough to accommodate the entire 
MAG, and was usable for operations if aircraft were 
refueled in the air or on the ground in MR 1. 

On 11 May, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer and the 
JCS approved the plan to move MAG-15 to Thailand, 
specifying that the opening of Nam Phong would be 
on an "austere" basis— which was "a gross understate- 
ment," according to General Brown. On 14 May, a 
planning conference was held on Okinawa by Gener- 
al Metzger with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, 3d Marine 
Division, and 3d Force Service Support Regiment to 
consider the task. The immediate result was to send 
a survey team headed by Brigadier General Andrew 
W. O'Donnell, the assistant wing commander, to 
Thailand to determine existing facilities and to coor- 
dinate with the U.S. Embassy, the Military Advisory 
Command, Thailand (MACThai), Seventh Air Force, 
and other supporting agencies. 

General O'Donnell and a Marine and Navy staff 
arrived in Thailand on 18 May, went to Bangkok, and 
then on to Nam Phong. There they found a runway, 

*Both Generals Brown and O'Donnell later commanded FMFPac. 

taxiway, parking apron, six Butler buildings, and an 
8,000-square foot hangar. As General Brown had ex- 
pected, the main challenges to operations were logisti- 
cal. Nam Phong was a U.S. Special Forces camp for 
the training of Laotian irregulars, who occupied the 
existing buildings and had constructed six other struc- 
tures and training facilities. The 50 or so U.S. Army 
"Green Berets" and other advisors present found their 
pastoral surroundings altered by the arrival of the Ma- 
rines. General O'Donnell concluded from his inspec- 
tion that Nam Phong had potential for MAG-15 
operations, but would require extensive development 
for the 60-to-90 day deployment envisioned by Ad- 
mirals McCain and Moorer. While in Thailand, 
O'Donnell negotiated terms of occupancy, designat- 
ing Nam Phong a "Royal Thai Air Base" and arranged 
support agreements with the U.S. Army Support Ac- 
tivity, Thailand, for a logistical base through the port 
of Sattahip. General O'Donnell then returned to Japan 
and briefed General Brown on what was needed to 
support MAG-15. 

A special organization, designated Task Force Del- 
ta (TF Delta), was formed at Iwakuni, Japan, on 24 
May 1972, and it remained in existence until well af- 
ter the end of the American involvement in Vietnam. 
General O'Donnell commanded the task force with 
a mission of opening the base at Nam Phong and as- 
suming control of MAG-15. His initial task was to make 
the airfield ready to support tactical flight operations. 
This was undertaken by U.S. Navy Mobile Construc- 
tion Battalion 5, MABS-15, and H&MS-15. General 
O'Donnell also maintained liaison with Seventh Air 
Force, the Royal Thai Air Force, and the Military Ad- 
visory Command Thailand. 

A KC-130 tanker from Marine Aerial Refueler Trans- 
port Squadron (VMGR) 152 arrived at Nam Phong 
on 24 May with 39 Marines, beginning the buildup 
of forces to more than 3,200 men. The establishment 
of a U.S. Air Force aerial port detachment triggered 
the airlift of the advance party of 377 Marines, 94 U.S. 
Navy "Seabees," 3 civilians, and 1,399 tons of materi- 
al by MAC C-I41s and C-5 transports.** 48 

Construction began at once on 310 strong-back huts, 
128 administrative and maintenance structures, a 
bomb dump, a 200,000-gallon Tactical Aviation Fuel 
Dispensing system, and storage for 360,000 gallons of 

**The combined movement of MAG-15, MCB-5, ktgistics Sup- 
port Group Delta, and supporting detachments to Nam Phong re- 
quired 278 aircraft loads to transfer6,259 tons of material and 2,064 
passengers to make the field operational. 



bulk fuel.* 49 Generals Brown and O'Donnell deve- 
loped a deep respect for the "Seabees," the majority 
of whom arrived by ship and trucked inland to Nam 
Phong. Brown recalled "they worked hard and fast and 
never quit" on the base construction. 50 

The movement of MAG-15 aircraft began on l6June 
when 11 F4Bs of VMFA-115 launched from Da Nang, 
completed air strikes enroute, and landed at Nam 
Phong. They began flying sorties from Nam Phong 
on 17 June. 51 By 20 June, VMFA-232 and Marine All- 
Weather Attack Squadron (VMA[AW]) 533 also ar- 
rived at Nam Phong. The A-6A "Hawks" of 
VMA(AW)-533 provided MAG-15 with an all-weather 
and night capability of 12 aircraft. Additional aircraft 
came from VMGR-152 Detachment Delta's four 
KC-130s for aerial refueling and a H&MS-36 Detach- 
ment of four CH-46s for search and rescue. By 30 June 
Task Force Delta consisted of 17 F-4s, 12 A-6s, 4 
KC-130s, and 4 CH-46s.** In view of theJCS-directed 
"austure" nature of this deployment. General Jones 
at FMFPac and General Brown at 1st MAW were per- 
sonally involved with the "somewhat overwhelming" 
logistics support required, particularly for the A-6s. 52 

As it turned out, the A-6A proved its worth during 
this deployment with "full-systems" readiness. Lieu- 
tenant Colonel James C. Brown, the A-6 squadron 
commander, believed the deployment of MAG-15 rein- 
forced the expeditionary capability of the U.S. Marines 
in an age of sophisticated aircraft and "especially 
sophisticated" ground support equipment with all its 
specific power and environment requirements: "The 
A-6 aircraft required a higher degree of ground- 
support facilities than either the F-4 or A-4. These re- 
quirements were met at Nam Phong after a difficult 
start-up period." Lieutenant Colonel Brown credited 
this accomplishment to the innovation, perseverance, 
and hard work of individual Marines.*** 53 

The deployment and activation of TF Delta accom- 
plished, the Commandant, General Robert E. Cush- 
man, Jr. noted: 

.... Such an achievement was made possible only through 
the team work of dedicated professionals and numerous per- 

*The type and priority of construction are detailed in CNA 
MarActySEA, pp. 95-96. 

**The TA-4 "Fast Fac" Detachment with MAG-15 returned to 
Iwakuni, Japan, and VMFA-212 returned to Hawaii instead of go- 
ing to Thailand, 

***Lieutenant Colonel Brown, VMA(AW)-533's commander, 
highlighted the joining of an attack squadron to a fighter group 
as a classic example of Marine task organization. But, "there were 
some subtle lessons to be learned from integrating our attack orien- 
tation with a fighter oriented aircraft group." (Brown Comments) 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A290843 
Commanding Task Force Delta in its initial phase in 
Thailand was BGen Andrew W- O'Donnell, the assis- 
tant commanding general of the 1st MAW- His major 
concerns were as much logistical as operational. 

sonal sacrifices. This matter is of considerable pride to me 
and should be a source of great individual self-satisfaction. 51 

While the activation of Nam Phong stands as an 
accomplishment in its own right, ultimately its sig- 
nificance rests on the purpose for which it was estab- 
lished, the destruction of Communist forces. General 
Vogt tasked General O'Donnell with conducting air 
operations over North and South Vietnam. For Gener- 
al O'Donnell this meant finding out what the Air 
Force wanted, as well as ensuring that General Vogt 
understood the capabilities of MAG-I5's pilots and 
planes. What resulted from this interaction with the 
Seventh Air Force was a variety of new tasks and mis- 
sions for Marine aircrews. General O'Donnell personal- 
ly flew F-4 combat missions which earned him credi- 
bility both with the pilots of the task force and when 
discussing operational matters with the Air Force.**** 

The distance from MR l required airborne refuel- 
ing and landing at Da Nang. The average flight time 
increased from one to two hours and the ordnance load 

****An unspoken consideration was the clear risk of his becom- 
ing a prisoner if downed. 



Task Force Delta Command Chronology 
Clearing away thick vegetation for the cantonment area was an initial task of Marine and 
Navy engineers. Existing base facilities were insufficient in quality and quantity for the 
increased number of personnel required to support the expanded Marine Air Group 15- 

Within a short time, this tent city was erected to become the billeting area for Head- 
quarters and Maintenance Squadron 15 and Marine Air Base Squadron 15- looking south, 
in the foreground are supplies and material being stored in the open for lack of adequate 
warehousing. The jungle terrain surrounding the base appears to stretch to the horizon. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A26870 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A422876 
The fighter-attack group was joined by VMA(AW)-533 and its all-iveather attack Grumman 
A-6A Intruders. The Intruders' bomb-carrying capacity and flight time were impressive. 

was reduced by 500 pounds to compensate for extra 
fuel. Support of operations from Nam Phong required 
three H&MS-15 detachments to "turn around" aircraft: 
Detachment Alpha at Da Nang to rearm and refuel, 
Detachment Bravo at Cubi Point for maintenance 
work, and Detachment Charlie at Iwakuni for adminis- 
trative and logistical liaison with 1st MAW. 55 Detach- 
ment Alpha started at Da Nang on 3 July, increasing 
mission and sortie rate. On 8 July, TF Delta aircraft 
intercepted two Communist MiG-19 Farmers over 
North Vietnam, the task force's first air-to-air encoun- 
ter with the enemy in it's new area of operations. 56 

Ground security considerations for the task force 
were different from those at Da Nang and Bien Hoa. 
Although Companies L and M, 9th Marines moved 
into Thailand with MAG-15, Nam Phong's location 
removed the immediate threat of ground attack that 
had existed in South Vietnam. The infantry Marines 
were formed into the TF Delta security element and 
designated "Sub Unit (SUl)" of MABS-15." The com- 
manding officer was Major John M. Campanelli, an 
experienced infantry officer, assisted by Captain Philip 
F. Reynolds as executive officer and Captain Thomas 
D. Martin as operations officer. 58 The sub unit con- 
sisted of 11 officers and 363 Marines organized along 
the lines of a small infantry battalion— rifle compa- 
nies with headquarters and service company support, 
including communications, 81mm mortars, motor 
transport, and medical sections. Its mission was to pro- 
vide base security and military police support to the 

task force. The Marines were armed with the full range 
of small arms, but were restricted to using only illu- 
mination rounds from their M79 grenade launchers 
and mortars. With no known external threat, Major 
Campanelli concentrated his efforts on interior guard 
and security of vital areas: the fuel and ordnance 
dumps, the flight line, and maintenance facilities. 
Guard towers, bunkers, barbed wire, and chain-link 
security fences were built to control the perimeter and 
vital areas. The size of the base required more men 
for guards than SUl could provide and it was aug- 
mented by MABS-15 and the flying squadrons. After 
the initial 90-day TAD period passed for the "Grunts," 
Headquarters Marine Corps assigned infantry replace- 
ments directly to 1st MAW. Major Campanelli hired 
100 Thai auxiliary security guards from the Special 
Forces Camp to augment the Marines and, on 30 July, 
12 guard dogs arrived. 

The Rose Garden Grotvs 
Task Force Delta air operations were of three dis- 
tinct types: day fighter-cover, day ground-attack, and 
night ground-attack. These missions in turn were as- 
sociated with specific geographic areas and targets. 
Most numerous were daytime flights supporting 
MACV and the South Vietnamese in MR 1, MR 2, and 
Route Package 1 during the combat to regain Quang 
Tri Province. These tasks were conducted with F-4s and 
A-6s using bombs, rockets, and cannon fire. Sorties 
normally consisted of two or three aircraft each. Daily 
the aircraft lined up on Nam Phong's single runway 



Adapted from Task Force Delta Material 



Task Force Delta Command Chronology 
An essential element of the air effort was the continued upkeep of aircraft systems. The 
Wonder Arch shelters allowed the 24-hour-a-day support needed to keep the planes flying. 

with engines screaming at 100 percent power as the 
pilots checked engine instruments. Each aircraft then 
took off in turn and quickly rendezvoused on its climb 
out to the target area. Many of the Marine flights hit a 
target, flew to Da Nang to refuel and rearm, and then 
flew another mission on the return to Nam Phong. 

Fighter cover was in support of the ongoing strikes 
by Seventh Air Force against the North Vietnamese 
political and economic infrastructure. The strikes, 
which had begun on 8 May, were part of an extensive 
naval and air campaign to pressure the North Viet- 
namese into a negotiated settlement. The campaign 
included the mining of harbors, attacks against eco- 
nomic targets, the use of precision-guided munitions 
("smart bombs"), and a massive increase in the size 
and durations of strikes with the aim of reducing the 
flow of supplies into North Vietnam and support to 
operations in South Vietnam. In contrast to the previ- 
ous, graduated campaigns, commanders took all 
necessary steps to ensure target destruction.* 59 

*The final analysis of air power in the Linebacker Campaign of 
1972 is outside the scope of this study. The U.S. Air Borce review 
of this section questioned whether the difference between Rolling 
Thunder and Linebacker was one of target destruction or a shift 
from attacking the economy to distrupting the storage and distri- 
bution of supplies (Bernard C Nalty, Comment on draft ms, 3Jan90 
[Vietnam Comment File]). 

Marine F-4s conducted combat air patrols to pro- 
tect support aircraft from North Vietnamese reaction. 
This required them to fly a specified orbit point from 
which to cover tanker, command and control, electron- 
ic warfare, and rescue aircraft over Route Packages 4, 
5, and 6. From orbit points they could track and en- 
gage North Vietnamese interceptors and air defense 
positions. Marine KC-l30s refueled the fighters going 

LtGen Louis Metzger oflllMAF, right, visits Task Force 
Delta in late 1972. At left are BGen Robert W. Tay- 
lor, commanding Task Force Delta, and Col Aubrey 
W. Talbert of MAG-15. As the war concluded, there 
was a continued need to keep combat units in place 
to help ensure ceasefire compliance by the enemy. 

Marine Aircraft Group 15 Command Chronology 



in and coming out. These missions witnessed Marine 
air integrated with the Air Force in air-to-air and deep- 
penetration flight ptofiles. 80 

The intetdiction of roads and trails in the Barrel Roll 
and Steel Tiger areas of Laos wete the missions assigned 
the VMA(AW)-533 crews with their night armed 
reconnaissance abilities. Lieutenant Colonel Btown 
wrote that his squadron "... began interdicting con- 
voys on Route Package 1 on 12 August and, like our 
entite effort, it was relentless. To the enemy, this in- 
cessant bludgeoning was ctippling .... " 61 First Lieu- 
tenant Gary W. Dolgin described the aircraft and men 
engaged in these night flights in 1972: 

Aircraft 155707 . . . has a long shadow cast behind her 
indicating a time late in the afternoon. She sits quierly, 
fueled, aimed, and with power unit attached. In a few hours 
a crew of one pilot and one bombardier-navigator will walk 
out to her. The sun will have since set. The crew will do 
a pre -flight inspection, strap in, Fire up, check out the en- 
tire aircraft system, and take off. An hour or so later they 
will be inside North Vietnam terrain following at 420 knots 
over mountains and down in valleys headed for a target 
regardless of weather. 62 

General O'Donnell passed command of Task Force 
Delta to Brigadier General Robert W. laylor on 23 Au- 
gust. Three days later, VMFA-232 lost an aircraft to a 
MiG-21 Fishbed over Laos. Both crewmembers 
ejected — the intercept officer was recoveted and the 
pilot was missing in action. 83 Colonel Aubrey W. "Tal" 
Talbert, Jr., commanding MAG-15, reported that to 
support the continued effort, the "... maintenance 
and supply effort to provide the full system aircraft 
needed in the hostile skies of North Vietnam has been 
substantial." 64 For maintenance crews, the beginning 
and end of all efforts was to get their pilots and planes 
in the air on time, "the primary objective to achieve 
a Marine aerial victory over enemy aircraft." 65 Life in 
Nam Phong or the "Rose Garden,"* as it was now 
popularly known by its Marine occupants, revolved 
around the cycle of fragging, scheduling, briefing, 
arming, fueling, launch, and recovery activities that 
always appeared at odds with the normal routine of 
living. The routines of day, night, sleep, meals, and 
the calendar had relatively little meaning in the oper- 
ational and maintenance cycles of air units at war. 

The need for adequate ground secutity was high- 

*A nickname Nam Phong acquired from a contemporary Ma- 
rine recruiting slogan, "We Don't Promise You A Rose Garden," 
and a popular song by Lynn Anderson with similar lyrics. General 
Metzger observed a single scraggly rose bush planted in the mid- 
dle of the camp, "with typical Marine humpr." (Metzger Comments) 

lighted by terrorist attacks on Ubon and Udorn Air 
Bases in October. Concern for base security was at its 
peak at Nam Phong, recalled First Lieutenant George 
R. "Ross" Dunham of VMGR-152 Detachment Delta, 
when the sound of an explosion from the flight line 
brought cries of "Incoming, hit the bunkers!" from 
the billeting area. When the smoke had cleared, in- 
vestigation detetmined that the accidental discharge 
of an air-to-ground rocket had occurred in the arm- 
ing area. 88 The ground threats to the safety of TF Delta 
remained thus self-induced or from the burgeoning 
local "black market" and other economic enterprises 
outside the base. Major Kent C. Bateman, the 
VMA(AW)-533 executive officer, believed that this sit- 
uation precluded a real sense of involvement by the 
enlisted Matines. As only the aircrews experienced 
combat, "there was little sense of urgency by the 
ground and suppott personnel." 87 

When Major Kenneth N. Zike took command of 
MABS-15's Sub Unit 1 on 26 November, it had ex- 
panded to include 200 Thai auxiliaries. Patrolling out- 
side of the perimeter, out to 16 kilometers from the 
base, was now the responsibility of Thai military forces, 
because of the reluctance of the Thai Supteme Com- 
mand to allow the U.S. a ground combat role in 
Thailand. General Taylot and Royal Thai Air Fotce 
Special Colonel Supot, the base commandet, signed 
a joint base defense plan at the year's end, alleviating 
the remaining security concetns. This plan tasked SUl 
with manning 27 bunkers and towets of the internal 
defensive position. The Thais manned the remaining 
53 positions. Lighting and fencing continued to be 
installed and improved by the Marines. Two mobile 
reaction platoons were formed: one established near 
the combat operations center and the other at the 
bomb storage area. MABS-15 provided an additional 
civil disturbance platoon for riot duty. 

With the arrival of the fall monsoon weather, con- 
ditions for visual delivery of ordnance declined. For 
the F-4s this meant level bombing using release points 
obtained ftom TACAN cuts, LORAN-equipped air- 
craft, and USAF Combat Skyspot control stations 88 
The A-6s continued to operate day and night over the 
roads and trails of Route Package I. 89 By now, at the 
political level, offensive operations and successful 
South Vietnamese resistance brought the North Viet- 
namese to the negotiating table. Operations continued 
through the 23 October halt of bombing of North 
Vietnam above the 20th Parallel. The Seventh Air 
Force noted in November that VMFA-115 and 
VMFA-232 had the highest sortie rate of any land- 


Photo courtesy of Cdr Peter B. Mersky, USNR 
Fighter aircraft from MAG-13 being used in an attack role dropping general-purpose 
bombs. Notice the open hatch on the VMFA-115 aircraft above the letter -E on the fuselage, 
indicating the deployment of decoy flares in response to a surface-to-air missile threat. 

Combat artist Maj John T. "Jack" Dyer, Jr., sketched Phantoms in Wonder Arch hangars 
at Nam Phong, as the war continued into another year. The on-again-off again nature 
of the deployment caused problems as the intensity of combat declined for the Marines. 

Marine Corps Art Collection 



based F-4 units in Southeast Asia. 70 The offensive oper- 
ations resumed with all-out air attacks against the 
North beginning on 18 December, and continued un- 
til combat flights in Vietnam ceased at year's end. 71 
Statistics can only indicate the magnitude of the ef- 
fort by TF Delta and MAG-15. Figures only imply the 
human costs and achievements of the aircrews and 
men who kept them operating; the personnel of Task 
Force Delta contributed toward the South Vietnamese 
defense and the U.S. air offensive of 1972. 72 The North 
Vietnamese Army's transition to mobile warfare made 
it dependent on the delivery of fuel, ammunition, and 
other supplies coming by routes that were vulnerable 
to destruction from the air. In the resulting battle of 

attrition, airpower had a crushing effect on the ene- 
my. Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, USN, as a 
prisoner of war and an eyewitness to American airpow- 
er from the North Vietnamese capital in 1972, stated 
that, "If I learned nothing else during the eight years 
in wartime Hanoi, it was that Clausewitz is as right 
today as he was during the Napoleonic Wars; the name 
of the game in war is to break the enemy's will" 13 This 
was the stated purpose of airpower. The North Viet- 
namese relied, however, on Ho Chi Minh's rejoinder 
to the air effort: "Hanoi, Haiphong, and other cities 
and certain enterprises may be destroyed, but the Viet- 
namese people will not be intimidated! Nothing is 
more precious than independence and freedom!" 74 


On Yankee Station 

Support to the Navy: Task Force 77 -All Weather Attack -More Support to the Navy — VMCJ 

Snakes at Sea — Fighters over the North 

Support to the Navy: Task Force 77 

While Marine aircraft groups were supporting the 
U.S. Air Force, other air units were with the Seventh 
Fleet's Attack Carrier Strike Force (Task Force 77) of 
Vice Admiral Damon W. Cooper in the Tonkin Gulf. 
At the time of the 1972 Communist offensive, four 
carrier battle groups were in the Tonkin Gulf rather 
than the normal two. This increased to six by June and 
then to seven carrier'groups by the end of the year * 

Vice Admiral William P. Mack, commanding 
Seventh Fleet, and Admiral Cooper, commanding Task 
Force 77, positioned carrier groups for air strikes from 
the Tbnkin Gulf in response to NVA attacks. Other 
ships moved to support the increased tempo of carrier 
operations. Nine to 13 destroyers provided a screen to 
intercept North Vietnamese aircraft and torpedo 
boats. Destroyers and amphibious ships operated two 
northern search and rescue (SAR) stations, two posi- 
tive identification and radar advisory zones (PIRAZ), 
a middle SAR station, and a southern SAR station 
which was later renamed Picket Station Alpha to coun- 
ter the threat of North Vietnamese missile boats. 1 

Admiral Cooper concentrated air attacks in Route 
Packages 1 and 2 with the resumption of naval gun- 
fire and bombing in North Vietnam on 7 April 1972. 
These struck at troop and logistic targets in the Pan- 
handle, Finger Lake, and Mu Gia Pass regions through 
low clouds and the heavy fire of antiaircraft defenses. 
One or more carrier groups remained dedicated to 
direct air support in South Vietnam, primarily in 
MR 1, during the critical days of April and May. The 
Marine squadrons flew the same missions as the Navy 
fighter and attack squadrons to maintain air superi- 
ority, interdict lines of communication, and attack eco- 

*Catrier air wings (CVW) were task-organized mixes of aircraft 
and facilities on a self-contained floating airfield. Composition of 
CVW's during this period, as for example CVW-15 on rhe Coral 
Sea in 1972, included two squadrons of A-7 Corsairs, two squadrons 
of F-4 Phantoms, a Marine squadron of A-6s, and detachments of 
RF-8G Crusadets (photo), EKA-3Bs (tankers), E-lBs (early warning), 
and SH-3G Sea Kings (rescue). Marine squadrons operared from 
three carriers in 1972: the USS Coral Sea (CVA 43), rhe Saratoga 
(CVA 60), and the America (CVA 66). Units that supported TF 77 
included VMA(AW)-224, VMFA-333, HMA-3<59, and detachments 
from VMCJ-1, VMCj-2, and H&MS-15. 

nomic targets in support of political goals. Major 
attacks were flown against Vinh, Thanh Hoa, 
Haiphong, and Hanoi in 1972 by multiple aircraft em- 
ployed in self-contained forces which were aimed at 
single target areas — the carrier-launched "Alpha 

All-Weather Attack 

The previous winter, the USS Coral Sea arrived on 
Yankee Station with VMA(AW)-224 on board as part 
of Carrier Air Wing (CVW)-15. The "Bengals" were 
from the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air 
Station (MCAS), Cherry Point, North Carolina. Their 
arrival in the Western Pacific Ocean was part of a 
scheduled six-month cruise. Lieutenant Colonel Billy 
R. Standley's unit consisted of 44 officers and 290 en- 
listed men, with eight Grumman A-6A Intruder all- 
weather bombers, three A-6Bs, and four KA-6D 
tankers. Initial operations were strikes against Ben 
Karai and Mu Gai Passes to interdict enemy convoys 
along the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. Dur- 
ing the day the A-6s acted as pathfinders for other car- 
rier flights, dropping impact and delayed-fuze bombs 
through cloud cover. At night the A-6s operated with 
the Air Force's "Commando Bolt" system using sen- 
sors and on- board moving target indicators to knock 
out trucks on the numerous feeder roads to the trail? 
For the NVA soldiers, this continuous attack brought 
mixed emotions. One recalled: 

I could tell when we started to get dose to the Vietnam 
border .... We could hear rhe rumble of bombings in rhe 
distance. Everyone stopped to listen to it — a dull continu- 
ous toar. A surge of fear went through everyone in the group 
I was Traveling wirh. I was sick and half-srarved and scared 
to death. But I was near home. It had taken six months to 
get here ... 3 

The Coral Sea and VMA(AW)-224 were at Subic 
Bay, Philippines, on 30 March when Admiral Mack 
hurriedly recalled them to the Gulf of Tonkin to help 
stem the NVA invasion force. Lieutenant Colonel 
Standley and his squadron found themselves engaged 
in air strikes ranging the entire length of North Viet- 

**An attack was launched in sequence beginning with reconnais- 
sance, missile and antiaitctaft artillery suppression, ordnance runs, 
and posr-strike damage assessmenr aircraft. 







Nape Pas 



Yankee Station and the 
Laotian Panhandle 

kilometers l 




North Vietnam 


Marine Hunter- 
Killer Operations 

Gulf of Tonkin 

Cape Lai 

Dong Ha 
Quang Tri 

Rt r" 



South Vietnam 





Adapted from Naval Historical Center Material 

nam for the next 50 days. 4 The squadron flew Com- 
mando Bolt missions at night and attack missions near 
the DMZ during the day. In one instance, providing 
close air support to a fire support base on 9 April in 
northern MR 1, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph E. Bmbaker 
observed his "aircraft delivered their ordnance with 
deadly accuracy . . . ."* When the smoke from the 
A-6s' bomb load cleared, the firebase commander radi- 
oed the flight that they had "saved his position." 5 

In addition to these tasks, the Navy air group com- 
mander (CAG) assigned the squadron's A-6s to des- 

*Lieutenant Colonel Brubakei later commanded the squadron 
in 1972. 

troy SAM and radar sites with "Standard Arm" 
AGM-78 missiles guiding in on radar transmissions 
from the targets. These flights continued until a new 
phase of air operations began on 8 May. Unlike previ- 
ous air operations; targeting was at the theater level 
rather than the "Commander-in-Chief level."** Air 
Force B-52s and naval tactical aircraft were used simul- 
taneously against the same targets. 

The new operations called upon VMA(AW)-224 to 

**Under the previous, Rolling Thunder campaign, targets were 
selected for apparent political value within the considerations of 
"graduated response." At times, selection and approval of specific 
missions were from The White House {Air War-Vietnam, pp. 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) 002709 
Marine Corps squadrons are capable of operating from ship as well as shore, and this 
is reflected in both training and equipment. An A-6 makes its final approach to a carrier 
deck under the control of the landing signals officer. The aircraft's tail hook is lowered. 

Along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in March 1972, a Chinese-built Type 63 amphibious tank 
was destroyed by carrier air interdiction missions in the Panhandle region of Laos. 

Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 



play a role in mining North Vietnamese waterways and 
harbors. On the direct orders of President Nixon, 
Operation Pocket Money sealed Haiphong Harbor. 
Admiral Mack stated that he was required by the Presi- 
dent to drop the first mine "within seconds of nine 
o'clock because the President was going to announce 
the mining to the American public at that precise mo- 
ment back in the United States." 6 That bright, sun- 
lit morning, three Marine A-6As and six Navy A-7Es 
thundered up the defended approach to Haiphong 
at low level. The aircraft overflew local junks on the 
sparkling waterway and skirted it's shore line. Air and 
gunfire strikes silenced Communist missile and antiair- 
craft positions for air crews who, according to Admiral 

. . . had to know exactly where they were going and then 
drop mines in a very narrow channel regardless of fog, rain, 
or darkness. The drop had to be planned so that several air- 
craft could pick a point in the harbor area and drop their 
mines at 200 feet, microseconds apart, while going 300 to 
400 knots. 7 

Captain William D. Carr, Jr., the bombardier- 
navigator in the lead Marine A-6A, established the 
critical azimuth for the Haiphong Harbor attack on 
9 May. His aircraft dropped the first of 36 MK52-2 
mines seconds after 0900 and completed the mission 
within the hour. For the main channel, 12 miles long 
and up to 250 feet wide, the U.S. forces used 75 mines 
over three minefields to block the waterway. Another 
700 MK36 destructors were dropped in shallow water 
to deny passage to local shipping* 

After a three-day grace period before the mines were 
armed, 26 merchant ships remained trapped in 
Haiphong harbor. Air-dropped mines also closed the 
ports of Hon Gai and Cam Pha, north of Haiphong, 
and the ports of Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Quang Khe, and 
Dong Hoi to the south. After using more than 8,000 
mines in the coastal areas and another 3,000 in in- 
land waterways, the Navy believed it had stopped the 
flow of material into North Vietnam from the sea. 
With 80 percent of needed supplies entering the coun- 
try this way, and the rest by rail, air interdiction was 
intended to bring both North Vietnam's economy and 
its military to a standstill. 

Relief on Yankee Station came in July with the ar- 
rival of the USS America (CV 66). By then, 
VMFA(AW)-224 had flown 2,800 combat sorties with 
4,500 hours of flight time and the loss of four aircraft 

*Special fuzing on a general-purpose MK82 500-pound aircraft 
bomb produced the destructor. 

and crews. With Operation Pocket Money, the Marine 
A-6s and crews played a crucial role in delivering ". 
. . one of the most significant blows to the enemy since 
the beginning of the Vietnamese conflict." 8 

More Support to the Navy — VMCJ 

In the spring of 1972, with the increase in opera- 
tions from the Tonkin Gulf, Lieutenant General Louis 
Metzger, the III MAP commanding general, tasked the 
1st MAW commanding general, Major General Robert 
G. Owens, Jr., to provide electronic warfare support 
to Seventh Fleet and TF 77. This responded to a 
Seventh Fleet shortage of the specialized aircraft for 
this task and exercised the capabilities of 1st MAW's 
Grumman EA-6A Intruders. The Intruders of the 
VMCJ-1 "Golden Hawks" were well-enough equipped 
to allow American pilots to penetrate what was consi- 
dered the third-heaviest air defense system in the 
world.** 9 Electronic warfare permitted the intercep- 
tion, recording, and jamming of communications and 
radar systems used in North Vietnamese air defense. 
As a "combat-multiplier," the "soft kills" of intercep- 
tion or jamming aided other attack and fighter air- 
craft to enter defended areas for "hard kills" with 
ordnance. On 3 April, General Owens ordered the im- 
mediate deployment of a six-plane detachment from 
VMCJ-1 to NAS Cubi Point.*** Major John D. 
Carlton's detachment began missions in support of TF 
77 on 7 April. Later in the month, on 20 April, four 
"Playboy" EA-6 As of Detachment X, VMCJ-2, off the 
USS Saratoga (CVA 60), arrived as reinforcements. 10 
The resulting composite detachment of 221 Marines 
included crews and KC-130s from VMGR-152 and per- 
sonnel and support equipment from H&MS-15." 

Aircraft flew from Cubi Point to Da Nang Air Base 
for combat missions. Marines at Da Nang serviced the 
aircraft using fuel, revetments parking, and "ready 
room" space provided by the Navy's Fleet Air Recon- 
naissance Squadron (VQ) 1. Routinely, an early morn- 
ing flight of four EA-6s and a KC-130 with additional 
flight crews departed the Philippines for Da Nang. 
Once there, pilots were briefed for morning sorties and 
the EA-6s were fueled and serviced. After briefings 
and inspections, the planes launched to support Navy 
and Air Force strikes over North Vietnam. Morning 
missions completed, they returned to Da Nang for fuel 
and replacement crews to fly in the afternoon. After 
completing these final missions, the aircraft landed 

"After the Soviet Union and Israel. 

***The detachment could still operate from carrier flight decks 
if required. 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) 002714 
A Grumman EA-6A ofVMAQ-2 prepares to launch from a carrier deck. The squadron 
is identified by the "Playboy " logo and aircraft call-letters "CY" on the vertical stabilizer. 

at Da Nang for refueling and returned to Cubi Point 
with an accompanying KC-130. 

Admiral Cooper commented in April 1972 on the 
effective electronic warfare support TF 77 received from 
the Marines and their EA-6A aircraft, declaring that on 
"the five strikes they have supported, SAM guidance 
has been erratic and no aircraft have been hit." 12 This 
was critical support in conducting carrier-air operations 
into Route Packages 2 and 3. Major General Leslie E. 
Brown, while 1st MAW commander, concluded: 

. , . ECM missions provided CTT 77 the primary EW sup- 
port necessary to support intensive Alpha Strikes against 
North Vietnam without sustaining prohibitive aircraft 
losses. 13 

Operations continued at this pace through the Oc- 
tober 1972 bombing halt, when the detachment's mis- 
sion shifted to passive surveillance of North Vietnam 
to obtain an electronic order of battle. The 18 Decem- 
ber 1972 resumption of bombings found the detach- 
ment engaged again in active support of Navy and Air 
force attacks on Hanoi and Haiphong. The NVA com- 
mander for air defense of Hanoi, Tran Nhan, recalled 
that when the bombs fell in December "radar screens 

for the nine missile batteries around Hanoi remained 
blank." 14 

At the ceasefire, the VMCJ-2 detachment returned 
to 2d MAW in North Carolina, while the VMCJ-1 
detachment remained at Cubi Point supporting the 
Seventh Fleet. The composite detachment flew 2,496 
combat sorties and 5,356 hours, losing one aircraft.* 15 
Vice Admiral James L. Holloway III, commanding 
Seventh Fleet when the detachment returned to III 
MAF control on 18 February 1973, told the departing 
Marine pilots that their "unique role in electronic 
warfare provided invaluable support to the U.S. air 
striking forces which were penetrating a most formid- 
able and sophisticated anti-air warfare environment." 16 
Snakes at Sea 

Another aircraft singular to the inventory of 1st 
MAW supported the Seventh Fleet, the newly arrived 
Bell AH-1J Sea Cobras of Marine Helicopter Attack 
Squadron (HMA) 369. Cobra gunships flew from am- 
phibious ships to locate and destroy North Vietnamese 
sampans ferrying cargo from merchant ships to landing 

*Exduding KC-130 sorties of 1,440 hours and 568 combat flights. 



sites along the coast of North Vietnam and attempt- 
ing to avoid the mines of Operation Pocket Money. 

The squadron was still forming and had just received 
it's AH-lJs when the Spring Offensive occurred. A 
detachment was sent to the 9th MAB, and on 11 June 
1972, Admiral McCain called upon General Metzger 
to provide gunship support to TF 77. The origin of 
the Marine Hunter Killer ("MarHuk") operation arose 
from the desire of Admiral Holloway and Admiral 
Cooper to ensure that the blockade of North Vietnam's 
seaward approaches was complete and that not a "grain 
of rice" made it ashore through the use of small, ex- 
pendable boats which avoided the normal sea lanes. 
The use of carrier fixed-wing aircraft for this role divert- 
ed them from more critical interdiction missions. The 
solution rested in a more flexible, low-performance air- 
craft, the helicopter gunship. 17 With the demise of 
Navy light attack helicopter squadrons, III MAF had 
the only immediate source of armed helicopters. 
General Metzger believed, however, that the value of 
stopping a sampan and it's cargo was not worth the 
possible loss of a gunship. He also objected to depriv- 
ing General Miller and the 9th MAB of both amphibi- 
ous transports and gunships during a critical period. 
One consequence was the use of U.S. Army Cobras 
for helicopter escort during the amphibious landings. 18 

Despite official reservations over the mission, Gener- 
al Brown warned the acting squadron commander, 
Captain Ronald G. Osborne, to be ready to go. As 
Major Dawson P. "Rusty" Hansen assumed command 
of the squadron on 15 June, it was loading on board 
ship to assume its role as the Marine Corps sea-based 
attack helicopter squadron. 19 At the time, 18 officers, 
99 enlisted men, and seven helicopters were squeezed 
into limited deck and hangar space on board the USS 
Denver. A troop transport, the ship lacked aircraft sup- 
port and maintenance facilities. In fact, Admiral Hol- 
loway initially wanted a helicopter carrier (LPH) for 
this mission, but none was available because of 9th 
MAB combat and ready operations. Major Hansen and 
his maintenance officer, Captain David L. Caldon, 
overcame problems related to supply, missile counter- 
measure modifications, avionics support, ordnance 
handling, and the acquisition of Zuni 5-inch rockets 
not normally used by helicopters. 20 Without doctrine 
or experience to go by, "innovation and imagination 
were the keys" for the self-styled "Marhuckers." 21 

Major Hansen and Captain David C. Corbett, the 
operations officer, developed a concept of employment 
and techniques to accomplish the mission assigned by 
Seventh Fleet. This had two parts: the surveillance of 
merchant ships at the Hon La anchorage and the de- 

An AH-lJ Sea Cobra from HMA-369 in this case flies the call-letters ofHMM-165 while 
part of a composite squadron. It is armed with 20mm cannon and Zuni rocket pods. 

Department of Defense Photo (USN) 1168731 



Marine Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 Photo 
Squadron maintenance personnel viewed on the deck ofaLPD with one of their "birds." 
They operated from inadequate spaces under demanding conditions to keep aircraft aloft. 

struction of sampans running cargo ashore from these 
ships* As the merchant ships were from the People's 
Republic of China, they were not to be attacked or 
threatened by the Marines. Rules of engagement kept 
the Marines at least 500 yards from the merchants and 
over the water at all times. Task Force 77 controlled 
daily sorties and coordinated air, gunfire, and rescue 
support. Over time, tactics evolved from a single morn- 
ing and afternoon flight to random launches during 
the day. Finally, continuous night flights were conduct- 
ed under illumination shells fired by accompanying 
destroyers. Because the AH-lj lacked radio cryptotog- 
ic equipment, the use of radio silence was often man- 
datory to prevent and deceive North Vietnamese 
monitoring. 22 Flying without radio communications 
at night over the open sea was one measure of the 
squadron's skills. 

The North Vietnamese positioned 23mm, 37mm, 
and 57mm antiaircraft guns for air defense around the 
three-sided Hon La anchorage. These weapons and a 
variety of small arms hit nine helicopters in 140 fir- 

*fbur merchant ships were anchored at Hon La, Another an- 
chorage site was at Non Nieu. 

ing incidents. 23 Enemy fire from the anchorage and 
the beach increased threefold over the six-month peri- 
od of operations, but "very early the enemy realized 
that if they fired on the AH-lJs they could expect 
Cobras, NGF, and/or fixed wing to engage them. This 
has made the enemy fire short unsustained bursts and 
thus reduced their volume and accuracy." 24 Major Han- 
sen and his relief, Major David L. Ross, believed the 
Sea Cobra's small profile, maneuverability, and fire 
power prevented losses. 

The AH-lJs fought back with 20mm guns and rock- 
ets and also were able to "call for" naval gunfire and 
tactical air. Two air observets were assigned to the squa- 
dron as airborne controllers, Chief Warrant Officers 
James F. Doner, Jr., and James R. Owens. The two fly- 
ing "gunners" soon had the squadron pilots trained 
in airborne spotting and the squadron consequently 
could hit targets with more than just their on-board 
weapons, giving the North Vietnamese cause not to 
arouse the airborne Cobras. During one flight Chief 
Warrant Officer Doner's Sea Cobra was fired upon by 
a 12.7mm machine gun. The pilot turned his nose 
towards the gun position and let loose a 5-inch Zuni 



rocket. This was Doner's first experience with the Zuni, 
and "the pilot didn't tell me he was about to fire it." 
The rocket enveloped the Cobra with smoke and sparks 
from it's motor, rattling the aircraft, and had Doner 
yelling "We've been hit. . . !" 25 

In August, the squadron moved to the USS 
Cleveland (LPD 7) and continued full-time combat 
operations. On 17 August, a concerted effort was made 
to ensure continued "permissive environment" for the 
gunships using carrier-based A-6s and Vought A-7 
Corsairs and the fire support of seven naval gunfire 
ships, including the Newport News. After this, hostile 
ground fite slackened. Operating periods alternated 
with port visits through December, with a final move 
to the USS Dubuque (LPD 8). 

When operations ended on 26 January 1973, 
HMA-369 had flown 981 combat sorties, destroying or 
damaging 123 sampans carrying an estimated 5,444 
100-pound bags of rice. The merchant ships resorted 
to dumping cargo into the sea in waterproof containers 
in an effort to float cargo ashore. 26 A 1973 Center for 

An enemy view of the Sea Cobra showing the narrow 
perspective from head-on. This was a factor cited by 
aircrews as a reason that antiaircraft fire was ineffec- 
tive. Another factor was the amount of suppressive 
firepower the AH-1J could put out in rapid order. 

Department of Defense Photo (USN) 002711 

Naval Analyses study concluded that the employment 
of HMA-369 released two destroyers and carrier air- 
craft otherwise required for this mission. 27 The Secre- 
tary of the Navy recognized that the squadron 
maintained a sustained pace of heavy combat opera- 
tions during all types of weather, "responding gallantly 
to the almost overwhelming tasks of providing a three- 
fold role of attack, supply movement interdiction, and 
constant surveillance of the enemy." 26 Major Ross also 
provided a fitting summary of the period when he stat- 
ed that the squadron did more than just shoot-up sam- 
pans, "... most of all, the last six months of opera- 
tions have given the AH-lJ the opportunity to prove it 
deserves the designation of an attack helicopter. . . " Z9 

Fighters over the North 

The USS America (CVA 66) arrived in the Tonkin 
Gulf in July 1972 with a Marine squadron on board, 
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 333. The 40 
officers and 280 enlisted Marines of Lieutenant 
Colonel John K. Cochrane s squadron considered 
themselves "gunfighters," the special breed of aviators 
who flew fighters, even if their 12 McDonnell Doug- 
las F-4J Phantoms had seen more Vietnam service in 
a close air support role. The "Shamrocks," a 2d Ma- 
rine Aircraft Wing unit, was expecting to operate in 
the Mediterranean when it was ordered by the Chief 
of Naval Operations to report to CinCPac and, subse- 
quently, the Tonkin Gulf. 30 Operations in the skies 
over North Vietnam began on 14 July; half the mis- 
sions were fighter patrols and the rest were ground at- 
tacks in Route Packages 3 and 4. In August, the air 
group commander ordered the squadron on night 
armed-reconnaissance missions, but no NVA aircraft 
were encountered. These tasks continued through the 
fall, with port visits to the Philippines and Hong 
Kong. 31 

In September, flight operations in Route Package 
6b began. During this period two F-4s, call signs "Red 
One" and "Red Two," launched on a scheduled com- 
bat air patrol. Major Lee T. "Bear" Lasseter, the squa- 
dron operations officer, and his radar intercept officer, 
Captain John D. "Li'ljohn" Cummings, flew aircraft 
"Red One." Captains Andrew S. "Scotty" Dudley, Jr., 
and James W. "Diamond Jim" Brady manned "Red 
Two." Lasseter and Cummings were an old team with 
nearly 5,000 hours of Phantom time between them 
as air combat instructors and from previous tours. 
Dudley and Brady were on their first flight into the 

*Up to then, 62 strike and 109 combat air patrol missions had 
been conducted. 




.it "• 


A "Trip-Tre" F-4J lands on the USS Amerk 
is number 3886, with the "AJ" call-letters 
ordnance, indicating a training flight or 

heavily defended airspace of the far North. This was 
their second flight of the day to cover air attacks of 
targets on the coast north of Haiphong. Both F-4Js 
were armed with four Sparrow AIM-7E-2 and four 
Sidewinder AIM-9D missiles, a combination man- 
dated by the different capabilities of the two missiles. 32 
The tactical air commander and ground control in- 
tercept operator controlled the flight from the USS 
England (CG 22). 

The previous day, 10 September, Lasseter and Cum- 
mings had been directed to intercept a North Viet- 
namese MiG aircraft. Contact was made, but lost due 
to equipment failure. The 11th was different. 
Launched at 1700, after a delay in link-up because of 
radio silence, the flight proceeded to meet an airborne 
KA-6 tanker to top-off with fuel for the mission. "Red 
One" was filled and "Red Two" was refueling when 
the strike force they were assigned to protect began 
its attack. There was not enough time to complete 
refueling, but Lasseter felt that his wingman had 
enough fuel for the mission and ordered Dudley to 
follow him to their assigned combat air patrol station. 
Prior to reaching the orbit point. Chief Radarman 
Dutch Schultz on the England gave Lasseter a flight 

Photo courtesy of Cdr Peter B. Mersky, USNR 
\ in the Gulf of Tonkin. The specific aircraft 
if Carrier Air Wing 8. It is not carrying any 
return from combat in an "empty" state, 

vector to two MiGs 20,000 feet over Phuc Yen Airfield 
10 miles northwest of Hanoi. With intermittent ra- 
dar contact, the F-4s closed to seven miles of a pair 
of MiG-21 Fishbeds at 1,000 feet altitude. The aircraft 
sighted each other at about the same time, Lasseter 
now commenting that "we didn't surprise them." Dud- 
ley made the first call, "Tally-Ho! Tally-Ho! Twelve 
O'Clock. Keep going straight." The MiGs were flying 
one behind the other when Lasseter and Cummings 
locked-on to the lead aircraft. "OK, John, go 
boresight. Boresight now! Are we cleared to shoot?"* 
Lasseter launched two Sparrows which the silver- 
colored MiG dodged with an inside turn to gain alti- 
tude on "Red One." The second MiG reversed course 
and flew out of the engagement to the north. 

During the next four and a half minutes Lasseter 
and the MIG engaged in subsonic maneuvers below 
1,000 feet over the Phuc Yen runway. Cummings stat- 
ed that "ground fire and SAM warnings were continu- 
ous." Lasseter executed a "high yo-yo" to gain altitude 
and a firing position on his opponent as Dudley 

*Because of the number of American aircraft over North Viet- 
nam, visual identification and permission from a control agency 
was required before missiles could be used. 



North Vietnamese Army Photo 
Combat flights over North Vietnam, and Route Package 6 in particular, were subject to 
the full range of enemy weapons. Antiaircraft artillery included these S-60 57mm an- 
tiaircraft guns, used in conjunction with the "Flap Wheel" radar, in batteries of six guns. 

pressed the MiG. Lasseter launched two Sparrows and 
two Sidewinders during the melee but the MiG stayed 
low and evaded the missiles with continued left turns. 
Four minutes into the fight, Dudley was dangerously 
low on fuel and ready to disengage. Suddenly the MiG 
reversed his turn and gave Lasseter a clean shot at it: 
"Ha! We got him John! OK, splash one MiG-21!" Las- 
seter said later, "MiG-21 exploded and disintegrated." 
Cummings commented that the Sidewinder "really 
did a job on that MiG. Everything aft of the cockpit 
was gone and what was left was in an almost-90-degree 
dive for the ground at about 500 feet." 

"Red One" and "Red Two" joined, and started back 
to the America when, according to Lasseter, a third 
MiG "made a run on my wingman." Lasseter and 
Cummings fired their remaining Sidewinder, which 
got the MiG's "attention and sent him scooting towards 
home ..." By now Dudley was low on fuel as both 
aircraft slowed and climbed to 14,000 feet to reach the 
safety of the sea. They also shortened their exit route, 
flying straight over Haiphong. Electronic counter- 
measure gear continued to emit SAM and AAA warn- 
ings as the North Vietnamese attempted to hit them 
with a "tremendous amount of groundfire." 

The all-Marine MiG shootdown crew, happy to be 
alive, is Ma j Lee T. Lasseter, right, and Capt John D. 
Cummings. Cumming's flight recordings were used to 
reconstruct their air-to-air fight over North Vietnam. 

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 333 Photo 



In the confusion that followed, "Red One" was 
damaged by a surface-launched missile. Unable to link 
up with a tanker and out of fuel, "Red Two" stayed 
with his leader. Crossing the beach, Lasseter's aircraft 
was burning and its engine flamed out, forcing him 
and Cummings to eject "feet wet" into the Tonkin 
Gulf. Dudley and Brady, now out of fuel, and with 
possible battle damage to their Phantom, also eject- 
ed over the sea. The England launched a Helicopter 
Combat Support Squadron (HC) 7. "Big Mother" SAR 
helicopter to pick up Lasseter and Cummings; Dud- 
ley and Brady were recovered by the USS Biddle (DLG 

This was the only MiG kill of the war by a Marine 
Corps unit and an engagement with mixed results* 
A second section of F4s was diverted to the MiG fray, 
some 60 miles from assigned air cover positions on the 
coast, resulting in no fighter cover for the strike. 
Another consideration raised later by Captain Cum- 
mings was that ". . . the North Vietnamese used our 

*Two other Marines had shot down enemy aircraft during the 
war, flying as exchange officers with the U.S. Air Eorce: Captain Doyle 
D. Baker on 17 December 1967 with the 13th Fightet Squadron 
and Caprain Lawrence G. Richard on 11 August 1972 with the 585th 
Tactical Fightet Squadron. 

aggressiveness and desire to bag a MiG to lure us into 
a trap consisting of AAA, SAMs, and MiGs." 33 

The air war for VMFA-333 continued to the end of 
the year, with the squadron flying armed reconnais- 
sance missions during the bombing halt above the 
20th Parallel in October 1972. By this time, the winter 
weather restricted the squadron to instrument- 
controlled bombing through cloud cover. The Ameri- 
ca's air commander ordered VMFA-333 to conduct at- 
tack missions with the resumption of bombing on 18 
December 1972, In this month Major Lasseter took 
command of the squadron after Lieutenant Colonel 
Cochrane was shot down and injured, and Major Las- 
seter brought the squadron home at the end of its tour 
in March 1973. 

As the Marine Corps is the landward extension of 
the U.S. Navy, Marine air is the landward continuation 
of naval airpower, demonstrated by the Marine units 
with the Seventh Fleet during the Spring Offensive. 
In 1972, these Marine electronic warfare, attack, and 
fighter aircraft flew their share of Task Force 77's 65,285 
sorties flown over North Vietnam and 35,730 sorties 
over South Vietnam that helped to push the Com- 
munists further toward signing a ceasefire agreement. 34 


Other Marine Activities 

Leadership, Morale, and Readiness —Beans, Bullets, and AvGas: Logistics 
Thunder from the Sea, Fire from the Sky — War in the Ether 

Leadership, Morale, and Readiness 
At this time, commanders in FMFPac and III MAF 
had to address the intangible, as well as the physical, 
needs of their organizations: concerns related to the 
leadership, training, and morale of the Marines who 
made up the tactical units. The conduct of Marines 
who formed these units, in effect reflected the situa- 
tion in contemporary American society. In June 1971, 
this condition was described by military historian and 
commentator Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr., USMC 
(Ret), as ". . . the lowest state of military morale in 
the history of the country." 1 

From his experience as a division- and a corps-level 
commander, Lieutenant General Louis Metzger re- 
called, "personnel problems were a major challenge 
during this period." 2 One squadron executive officer 
and commander, Major Kent C, Bateman, concluded 
that "anti-war feelings of the period and the drug cul- 
ture mindset presented a leadership dilemma that was 
imponderable." 3 Some officers and noncommissioned 
officers, faced with this situation, appeared to avoid 
the career risks of leading these Marines for less 
demanding assignments. A company-grade officer re- 
plied this was not quite accurate, "We were doing the 
best we could with the people and equipment on 
hand." 4 

Actually, many of these personnel problems stem- 
med from the fact that the Marine Corps, unable to 
call up Reserves, was forced by declining recruitment to 
take in substandard entrants. Once enlisted, certain 
of these disadvantaged young men found it difficult 
to meet military standards and were either unwilling 
or unable to accept military discipline. Marine histori- 
an Allan R. Millet observed that this was accepted by 
the Marine Corps at the time "as a calculated risk to 
keep up end strength." 5 

A later study by Headquarters Marine Corps provid- 
ed the following statistics on Marine manpower at the 
start of the decade: In 1971, 21 percent of all recruits 
were discharged prior to completion of the 78-day 
period of recruit training; 70 percent of enlisted Ma- 
rines in this period, privates through sergeants, were 
21 years of age or less, and 49 percent of this group 
acknowledged some illegal drug usage. Only five per- 

cent of the "first termers" eligible to reenlist did so, 
indicative of service conditions at the time. This lack 
of quality manpower was also reflected in disciplinary 
problems which resulted in 587 general courts-martial 
and 6,655 special courts-martial. In 1971, desertions 
numbered 11,852 and unauthorized absences, 35,174, 
or at the rates of 56.1 and 166.6 per 1,000 respectively* 
In 1973 alone, 10,045 Marines were discharged prior 
to completion of obligated service. Recruiting stan- 
dards were lowered to the point that, by this same year, 
only 46 percent of incoming recruits held high school 
diplomas. Within the ranks of the lowest four enlist- 
ed grades of private through corporal, high school 
graduates composed 50 percent of ground combat 
units, 51 percent of support units, and 65 percent of 
aviation units. One division commander reported his 
troops' average general classification test (GCT) scores 
as 85, with 100 and above being required for training 
most technical skills.** 6 

Serving overseas when their country appeared torn 
by antiwar dissension, Marines went to a bob-tailed 
division on Okinawa or an air wing spread over the 
Pacific from Hawaii to Japan. Officers and men served 
12-month tours "unaccompanied" by families, on 
Okinawa alongside more generous U.S. Army and Air 
Force family policies. Efforts to reconstitute the 3d Ma- 
rine Division and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing did not 
appear to be the highest priority to those on "the 
Rock," as Okinawa was known. Facilities and equip- 
ment there showed the effects of the previous six years 
of war and the vagaries of the defense budget that 
sometimes appeared unable to afford basic necessities 
on a cyclic basis. For some Marines the local culture 
also seemed strange and unintelligible. 

As Marine Corps units departed Vietnam in 1971, 
those men with less than nine months overseas were 
reassigned within III MAF to finish their overseas tours. 
They arrived with an outlook and disdain for garrison 
living that negated the experience they brought as 

*Rate per 1,000 equals number of incidents divided by average 
enlisted strength x 1,000. Length of unauthorized absences histor- 
ically averaged 10 days. 

**GCT scores are roughly similar to Intelligence Quotients (IQ); 
i. GCT of 100 is believed to indicate average learning and reason- 
ing ability. 




Department of Defense Photo (USN) 002712 
Technology and material spent on the Spring Offensive was meaningless without the Ma- 
rines who made it work, such as crews and pilots of Marine Attack Squadron (Ail-Weather) 
224. Squadron members line up on the USS Coral Sea as it pulls into San Francisco in 1972. 

"combat veterans." The resultant high turnover of per- 
sonnel and the demands of additional duty and fleet 
augmentation programs adversely influenced combat 
effectiveness and unit cohesion. Racial conflict, alco- 
hol and drug abuse, and criminal activity that placed 
demands on the small-unit leadets beyond their ca- 
pacity were other manifestations of institutional stress. 7 

As commander of FMF Pacific, Lieutenant Genetal 
William K. Jones conducted a survey that examined 
perceptions by Marines of duty assignments, the le- 
gal system, racial conflict, drug use, and leadership. 
It reached a number of conclusions, among them the 
observation that: 

. . . throughout all these area; of major concern ate nega- 
tive attitudes or indications which appear repeatedly. Prin- 
cipal among these was the distrust of the young Marines for 
the "establishment"— tepresenting authority, one's supetiots, 
the chain of command, the legaJ structure. 8 

Leadership was believed to be weakest at the lowest 

level, the point at which conflicts appeared and where 
". . . the apparent intolerance and insulation of the 
white SNCOs [teptesented] the focal point of the 
generation gap" and the communications breakdown. 9 
This was not so much in routine official duties, but 
rather in the inability to establish personal trust and 
confidence during informal contacts with the young 
Matines. A factor in this was the loss of experienced 
staff noncommissioned officers who had been made 
temporary officers in the middle-1960s. 10 

The poll went on to conclude that drug use in the 
lower ranks was abetted by a "no-squeal" syndrome, 
race relations often broke down in black perceptions 
of inequities, Article 15 nonjudicial punishment was 
believed to be imposed arbitrarily, and, in leadetship 
relations, respect did not equate to trust among ranks. 
General Jones instituted a number of command pro- 
grams to get at the essence of these social problems 
and took steps to get the Marine Corps to do the same, 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
An "illegal assembly," as defined by military law and leadership, is represented by this 
gathering of Marines at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, in January 1972 on Dr. Martin Luther 
King, Jr.'s birthday. The group included outsiders from other facilities and services. 

with limited results* While General Leonard F. Chap- 
man, Jr., then Commandant, approved the FMFPac 
programs, he "was reluctant to take action since he 
was soon to leave office and preferred to leave it to 
his successor," General Robert E. Cushman, Jr. 11 

The conflict of legitimate civil rights reforms and 
disruptive demands for "black power" was lessened as 
earlier steps taken by the Marine Corps to address this 
national social issue began to take effect. At Head- 
quarters Marine Corps, the Equal Opportunity Branch 
and the CMC Advisory Committee for Minority Af- 
fairs continued efforts to remove inequities from the 
system. By late 1971, 1.2 percent of Marine officers and 
12.1 percent of Marine enlisted personnel were black 
Americans. Personnel distribution policies placed 

*Lcst this situation appear unique to the 1971-1973 period, it 
should be noted that one of General Jones' contributions was an 
FMFPac newsletter. The Marine Leader, which included previous 
leadership challenges and solutions featured in his "Base Plate 
McGurk" scries, first published in the Marine Corps Gazette in the 
late 1940s. 

17.97 percent of these Marines in combat arms and 
16.18 percent in support and service occupational 
specialties. It was in the FMF combat and support units 
that unrest was greatest. Racial incidents continued, 
but were now being recognized as not isolated but 
rather symptomatic of something more than poor dis- 
cipline: In September 1971, the 3d Marine Division 
targeted disruptive behavior by blacks in the base mess 
halls by prohibiting "power salutes." This resulted in 
34 Marines being charged with violations of the divi- 
sion order. Further efforts were made to suppress 
provocative posters, banners, and clothing deemed to 
contain a racial content. The year ended with 116 ra- 
cial incidents reported to Headquarters Marine Corps, 
which commented that the apparent increase in as- 
saults and incidents of racial tension was a result of 
a "more responsive and sensitive" reporting system. 
By April 1972, racial incident reporting and "salt and 
pepper" personnel reports (a unit's strength broken 
down by "race" groupings) were further revised and 
standardized by Marine Corps order. The human re- 



lations program had begun wirhin III MAF units. In- 
spection trips by the Commandant's Advisory Com- 
mittee for Minority Affairs and the Department of 
Defense reported that the effort in the Western Pacific 
was overcoming both discrimination and the resultant 
black backlash. 12 

To counter divisive elements, small-unit leaders at 
all levels had to establish conditions which promoted 
what FMFPac called "job satisfaction." Nothing was 
too insignificant if it impacted adversely on this, par- 
ticularly in barracks, the mess halls, and enlisted clubs. 
The commands emphasized unit identity, recognition 
of abilities and initiative, and an equitable promo- 
tion system. Leadership, as always, was a fuli-time, 
demanding affair. It was a tough time, particularly in 
garrison, for small-unit leaders: one second lieutenant 
recalled that the human relations program, while not 
a substitute for effective leadership, "was an attempt 
to allow Marines to better understand one another." 13 
Another platoon leader, Second Lieutenant Mark B. 
Pizzo, remarked that officers and staff noncommis- 
sioned officers "were open to constant threats and 
reprisals." 14 As III MAF soldiered on, one result of the 
termination of the Vietnam War was the start of a self- 
conscious internal review of mission, force structure, 
manpower, and quality.* 15 

Rear Admiral Wycliffe D. Toole, Jr., and Task Force 
76 had to resolve "disturbing racial and disciplinary 
problems both ashore and afloat." Admiral Toole went 
on to state that he appreciated the "untiring efforts" of 
Marines Major General Joseph C. Fegan, Jr., Brigadier 
General Edward J. Miller, and Brigadier General Paul 
G. Graham, to resolve these matters: "Without their 
constant personal attention ... the situation could 
have easily escalated into disruptive physical 
violence." 16 

Despite units' internal turmoils these same Marines 
and sailors responded automatically to the contingen- 
cies of 1972 with the speed and intensity of previous 
generations of U.S. Marines, particularly during the 
critical period of April and May. This desire to partic- 
ipate was reflected in shipboard activities and the in- 
tense competition to be assigned to any duties 
contributing to combat efforts. As Maxine Lance Cor- 

*This was completed when General Louis H. Wilson, Jr., as Com- 
mandant of the Marine Corps in 1975, wrote Senator Sam Nunn 
saying, "We have taken a hard look at ourselves. Self-discipline re- 
quires that we take such account as a routine matter at all times; 
but, periodically, we must look deeper into institutional assump- 
tions as well as operational realities. The Marine Corps has benefitted 
from this extensive review" (HQMC manpower study, p. 3) 

poral Donald L. Samuels of BLT 1/9 expressed it, unit 
pride gave "us a little something extra and makes us 
work harder." 17 Samuels' First Sergeant, Robert S. Yna- 
cay, agreed that morale was highest afloat "when the 
Marines got to participate in U.S. Navy duties with 
the members of the crew." 16 

On troop transports, jungle-utility-clad Marines ap- 
peared on deck with shorn heads, cleaning individu- 
al weapons "without being told to." Aviation crews 
pulled together as teams to meet the back-breaking 
demands of wartime sortie rates. Lieutenant Colonel 
Eddie R. Maag, the MAG-12 logistics officer, main- 
tained that when a private-first-class aircraft mechan- 
ic "will spend his own buck on a flashlight, and hold 
it in his mouth to ready a $15 million Phantom for 
the next mission, you have to be impressed." 19 The 
knowledge that there was a war on and Marines had 
a part to play in it was a major factor in restoring self- 
image to America's "first to fight." 20 It helped sustain 
them while "boring holes in the ocean" as members 
of the so-called "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" and while 
experiencing the day-to-day sameness of forward-area 
living. As Thomas Hobbes stated in 1651, "War con- 
sisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but 
in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by bat- 
tle is sufficiently known . . . ." 21 

Individual and unit quality as combat units, rather 
than as social beings or groupings, was measured in 
areas such as readiness, as well as in discipline and 
morale. Throughout this period, III MAF units con- 
ducted individual and unit training to ensure readi- 
ness for combat and contingency operations. Such 
training was more than the simple repetition of skills. 
It included physical and mental conditioning, instill- 
ing unit cohesion, sharing doctrine, ensuring material 
readiness, and providing leadership. Transition from 
peacetime to combat was not difficult for most naval 
and aviation units, as their normal duties are demand- 
ing in themselves. But even they had something to 
learn from the experience of rapid deployment to com- 
bat with ensuing around-the-clock operations. Ob- 
served Lieutenant Colonel James C. Brown, command- 
ing VMA(AW)-533, there were shortfalls "regarding 
readiness inspection procedures in garrison" that only 
became apparent in the field 22 For the amphibious 
units oriented towards ground combat, landing exer- 
cises and additional preparations were conducted at 
the Zambales Training Area, Philippines. Once at sea, 
readiness preparation was conducted at the small-unit 
level with what was called on-the-job training (OJT) 
for anything that could be accomplished within an in- 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800638 
BGen Edward J. Miller, Commanding General of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, 
takes an opportunity to brief enlisted members on their changing Southeast Asia mis- 
sions and to elicit their comments, on board the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in May 1972. 

dividual ship's plan of the day. Most units took ad- 
vantage of the opportunities made available during 
operations to accomplish needed improvements in 
readiness. This included rehearsals for landings, com- 
munications exercises, and general quarters drills. 23 
Maintaining combat readiness for 70 separate units, 
on 20 different ships, with more than 6,000 men for 
months at a time was especially difficult. Training of 
ground units on board ship is difficult under the best 
of conditions; the demands of combat readiness did 
not make it easier. The aviation units were already 
geared to a high tempo of operations that did not al- 
low, for them at least, this benefit. The long periods 
afloat and ashore were tempered by the proximity of 
fighting in Vietnam. These operations reversed the 
normal relation of staff to line, with headquarters per- 
sonnel being more actively involved in the conduct of 
the war and the riflemen and platoon leaders standing 
by. First Lieutenant Laurence W. Rush, a HMM-165 
pilot, noted that they had to content themselves with 
monitoring the radios and listening to Air Force and 
Navy pilots flying "in country." "We listened to strafing 
and bombing runs, Army chopper strikes, rescue ops 
and Arc Lights— that was B-52 high-altitude bomb- 
ing strikes. We listened and thought that soon we were 
going to get our chance." 24 

Training had functional and institutional aspects in 
readiness and discipline. Inspections on ship served 
as a measure of both physical and psychological pre- 
paredness, sharpened by the proximity of the fighting. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800647 
The end of the supply pipeline was at the point 
material was needed for use in the conduct of a unit's 
mission. At right, SSgt Francis N. Traufler, the 9th 
MAB's supply chief, issues camouflage clothing to a 
Marine replacement on board the USS Blue Ridge. 

Beans, Bullets, and AvGas: Logistics 

Under the existing military assistance programs, 
direct replacement of "service unique" equipment was 
authorized to the South Vietnamese, To the U.S. Ma- 
rine Corps, this meant the reconstitution of equip- 
ment and supplies lost in combat, as well as programs 
to upgrade the VNMC's potential. In addition to ad- 
visory personnel, additional material support was 
provided to the Vietnamese through the Marine Ad- 
visory Unit. To Colonel Dorsey, most significant was 
the emergency air shipment that brought 105mm 
howitzers, trucks, individual and crew-served weapons, 
gas masks, and other "combat essential items to Da 
Nang Air Base less than six days after the initial com- 
bat loss report had been received in Washington, 
D.C." as The logistics advisor. Major Stanley G. Pratt, 
had direct telephone contact to Headquarters Marine 
Corps by way of the headquarters command center. 
Supported by the Assistant Commandant of the Ma- 
rine Corps, General Earl E. Anderson, the Installa- 
tions and Logistics Division sent timely replacement 
of unit equipment lost in the spring battles. The close 
rapport between the Vietnamese Marines and the U.S. 

Marines paid dividends, as direct flights of replace- 
ment stocks were made into Da Nang before the start 
of the Lam Son counteroffensive. 

General Metzger, as III MAF commander, was in- 
volved in a number of support activities cutting across 
the spectrum of the missions of deployed units on 
land, sea, and air. Units of the 3d Marine Division 
and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing units also required an 
extensive logistics support effort. During 1972, this III 
MAF logistic "tail" stretched from ships in the Tonkin 
Gulf and depots in the jungles of Thailand back to 
the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and even to the United 
States. The wing commander, Major General Leslie E. 
Brown, felt his major achievement during the period 
was the coordination of the deployment of tactical and 
support units to combat in Southeast Asia to several 
far-flung sites. 26 The cost to the 1st MAW alone in 
terms of maintenance, ordnance, and fuel was signifi- 
cant. The 9th MAB commander, General Miller later 
wrote that the 3d Marine Division commander. Major 
General Joseph C. Fegan had "turned his division 
'inside-out' in terms of personnel and equipment" to 
support III MAF. 27 

There was a need to maintain all manner of equip- 
ment at workshop (3d echelon) and depot (4th eche- 
lon) level at locations where facilities and support 
agreements did not exist. The continued readiness of 
the 9th MAB, MAG-12, and MAG-15 depended upon 
their organic maintenance programs for machines and 
Marines, not an easy task on a constantly moving am- 
phibious transport or at a remote airfield. Material 
readiness depended on maintenance of equipment 
and on the availability of parts for repair, and replace- 
ment of items that could not be serviced on ship. Re- 
stricted space, diminished facilities, diverse organiza- 
tions, and constraints due to contingencies also were 
factors to overcome. General Miller's units with Task 
Force 76 lacked the extensive facilities in Vietnam that 
existed prior to 1972. Units at sea were dependent 
upon Vice Admiral William P. Mack's Underway 
Replenishment Group for the supply of fuel, oil, lubri- 
cants, and food from supply ships. Moreover, combat- 
essential parts or equipment took up to 14 days to ar- 
rive from Okinawa and the Philippines. 

When battalions and squadrons arrived in the Viet- 
nam theater in April, they were able to take advantage 
of the US. Army's departure from Vietnam to replace 
or obtain supplies and equipment informally from 
stocks being left that would otherwise have gone to 
the South Vietnamese. While common equipment 
could be "scrounged" from Navy, Army, and Air Force 



III MAF Amphibious Assault Force Buildup in 1972 






































2 Apr 

9 Apr 

27 Apr 

23 May 

25 May 

13 Jun 

21 Jun 

26 Jun 

17 Jul 

Adapted from FMFPac MarOpsSEA andCNA MarActySEA Material 

units, General Miller needed a more reliable means 
to maintain forces afloat. On 16 April, General Metz- 
ger directed that high-priority items be sent to Fleet 
Air Support Unit, Da Nang, for transfer by helicopter 
to units at sea. This effort was supported by daily 
VMGR-152 flights from Iwakuni, Japan, via Okinawa 
and the Philippines. The initial efforts to establish 
needed coordination in Da Nang ran afoul of the JCS- 
imposed personnel ceilings on General Creighton W. 
Abrams that prohibited Marine helicopters and per- 
sonnel remaining ashore overnight. As a result, Fleet 
Air Support Unit (FASU), Da Nang, was unable to 
establish a Marine liaison team to handle the increase 
of cargo. The Navy met this demand by bringing in 
sailors from the FASU at Cubi Point in the Philippines, 

and the Marines in turn sent their men to replace the 
sailors at Cubi Point. 

This system reduced the delivery time for critical 
items to three and four days and mail, a high-priority 
morale item, averaged a four-day delivery time from 
the United States. 28 Personnel movement to and from 
the brigade paralleled these supply lines. Outgoing 
Marines on emergency leave, transfer, liaison, or ad- 
vance parties traveled from ship via Marine helicopters 
to Hue or Da Nang and connected with flights to 
Okinawa or the Philippines from Da Nang. Incoming 
personnel arrived at Da Nang by air or ship and were 
picked up at FASU by helicopter for transport to their 
units. Replacements who had left the United States for 
service in Okinawa were often in a state of shock when 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
An essential part of moving needed supplies and per- 
sonnel to afloat units was the logistics flights with or- 
ganic helicopters. This completed the link with 
deployed forces and supporting airfields at Da Nang, 
South Vietnam, and Cubi Point, Philippines. Here a 
CH-46 from HMM-165 is loaded, with rotor-blades 
turning, on the flight deck of the USS Tripoli. 

they were sent on to Vietnam at a time when there 
were reportedly no Marines left "in country." "Prado's 
Bunker" and "The Red Dog Inn," the most convenient 
transient quarters and bar, became familiar landmarks 
to FASU "customers" as they flowed along the supply 
and replacement routes serving the sea-based 9th MAB 
for almost 12 months. 

Air transport was vital to the employment of 
MAG-12 and MAG-15 during the Spring Offensive. 
Advance parties flew to the operating area in Marine 
KC-130s as soon as warning orders were received to 
coordinate for the reception and support of the in- 
coming squadrons to Vietnam. Concurrently, flying 
squadrons deployed directly to Vietnam or through 
NAS Cubi Point, Philippines. Squadron support per- 
sonnel and material flew to forward locations in air 
transport obtained from a variety of sources, including 
the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and Pacific Air 
Traffic Management Agency (PATMA), while remain- 
ing supplies followed on military and civilian sealift. 

VMGR-152 tankers and crews assigned to the 
detachment at NAS Cubi Point met initial air refuel- 
ing requirements. The Hercules tanker version could 
carry 32,140 pounds of fuel and could refuel two air- 
craft at the same time. The cargo version could carry 
up to 92 passengers or 26,913 pounds of cargo. Both 
VMGR aircraft provided direct support to fighter and 
attack squadrons moving into Da Nang, Bien Hoa, 
and Nam Phong. VMFA-212 employed the services of 
six tankers and a cargo aircraft in its move from Kaneo- 
he Bay, Hawaii, to Da Nang during its Pacific transit 
from Hawaii. Eventually another four tankers were sta- 
tioned in Thailand with TF Delta. A factor in the 
heavy demands placed upon the tankers was the in- 
compatibility of Navy and Air Force refueling systems, 
although the Air Force tankers could reconfigure with 

advance notice. The magnitude of tanker support is 

Long-range airtransport was provided by Lockheed KC-UO Hercules, as this aircraft from 
VMGR-152, indicated by the "QD" call-letters on the vertical stabilizer. These aircraft 
moved both supplies and fuel as an essential element of the forward deployment. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A422883 



III MAF Aviation Force Buildup in 1972 
(Excluding units with Seventh Fleet) 
























3633 - 



6 Apr 

10 Apr 

16 May 

31 May 

13 Jun 

18 Jun 

21 Jun 

24 Jun 

1 Jul 

Adapted from FMFPac MarOpsSEA and CNA MarActySEA Material 

indicated by statistics from the four-plane VMGR-152 
Detachment Delta at Nam Phong. In the year it was 
deployed, it flew 4,721 hours, refueled 3,239 aircraft, 
and transferred 4,434,280 gallons of JP-4 fuel. 29 

The KC-130 served to fly Marine logistic (MarLog) 
runs as well as for refueling. These same VMGR planes 
constituted an intratheater airlift between MAC and 
commercial air support to the forward locations. Start- 
ing in April, a daily MarLog flight ran from Iwakuni, 
to Okinawa, Cubi Point, and Da Nang, where helicop- 
ters ferried material to the 9th MAB. These flights were 
expanded to include Bien Hoa and Nam Phong as 
landing sites. 30 The demand upon the available planes 

and crews from Futema required additional reinforce- 
ment. VMGR-352 aircraft deployed in April, bring- 
ing the total of KC-l30s to 15 in the Western Pacific, 
of which eight were configured for tanker operations. 

General Metzger also was concerned about his abil- 
ity to support sustained operations at the new loca- 
tions, combined with increasing demands for logistic 
support made upon General Abrams and General 
Vogt. 31 The support structures in Vietnam developed 
by the Marines in the 1960s were no longer in place, 
including accurate information about existing facili- 
ties and services. Deployments to Da Nang and Bien 
Hoa resulted in support from Seventh Air Force of 



Task force Delta Command Chronology 
Modern military aircraft were particularly demanding of supply and maintenance sup- 
port to meet the needs for full-systems readiness. This was complicated by the additional 
demands of combat flying not normally met in peacetime service. A Marine maintenance 
man works on an A-6 of VMA(AW)-533 using ground support equipment for power. 

common items such as ordnance and fuel. Uncommon 

support, including rework facilities, came from the 
FASU at Cubi Point and through the use of the ubiq- 
uitous MarLog for high-priority items. On 27 April 
1972, General Brown established Detachment Bravo, 
H&MS-15 at Cubi Point to conduct scheduled inspec- 
tions, engine buildups, and provide intermediate 
maintenance activity (AIMD) support for deployed 
squadrons. Remote from Vietnam, it was a secure lo- 
cation to work on aircraft shuttled in and out of the 
combat zone. 32 

The deployments of MAG-12 and MAG-15 present- 
ed substantially different problems: MAG-12 moved 
into existing facilities with direct support from Seventh 
Air Force and MACV; the MAG-15 movement to Nam 
Phong was to an empty airstrip. For MAG-15, base de- 
velopment was the initial priority. Support at Nam 

Phong was predicated on the Air Force's definition of 
"bare base" operations that required ". . . no physical 
facilities other than a usable runway, taxiway, parking 
area, and source of water." 33 General Jones at FMFPac 
took several steps to free material for the construction 
of facilities after receiving a report dated 10 May from 
Brigadier General Andrew W. O'Donnell and the 
Officer in Charge of Construction, Thailand. The 
FMFPac commander directed General Metzger to ship 
to Nam Phong AM-2 matting from MCAS Futema, 
"Butler" buildings from Camp Butler, Quonset huts 
from the 3d Marine Division, and contingency con- 
struction material held by 3d Force Service Regiment. 

To build the base required the efforts of Mobile 
Construction Battalion 5, the Marine Wing Support 
Group, and contract civilian construction companies 
to install fuel storage, navigational aids, parking 



ramps, ordnance storage, cargo handling facilities, and 
the road network. The MAG was able to fly a limited 
number of sorties after fuel became available and air 
controllers were in the field's tower. Renovation of ex- 
isting buildings, development of a water system, and 
construction of warehouses and security positions were 
followed by laying concrete for a helicopter pad, and 
constructing housing, mess halls, and seven concrete 
"Wonder Arch" aircraft shelters. Support of TP Delta 
was dependent upon airlift to bring in 7,400 tons of 
cargo and 3,000 men with MAC C-l4ls. Seven weeks 
later the USS Tuscaloosa (LST 1187), USS Mobile and 
the MSC American Ranger delivered another 628 tons 
of cargo, mostly vehicles, through Sattahip. Despite 
General Jones' personal interest in building up Nam 
Phong, it still took from 24 May until 17 June before 
the first combat flights could be flown from the base. 

General O'Donnell also was faced with the short- 
age of repair parts from the logistics support group, 
the lack of storage facilities, and the less-than-effective 
response from the Naval Supply Center at Subic Bay 
and the 3d FSR at Okinawa to supply requests. Repair 
parts for electronic and ordnance items were not 
stocked at levels adequate to meet increased failure 
rates from combat usage. All of this was further com- 
plicated by the different locations of MAG-15 and the 
extended distances involved with the supply "pipeline." 
In June 1972, when MK46 and MK47 decoy flares were 
expended at a rate greater than the receipt of replace- 

ment stocks from the United States, General Jones ex- 
pedited their resupply. 34 Also by 17 June, the PATMA 
airlift was only half completed, with a supply back- 
log at NAS Cubi Point. A solution had to be found 
before shortages affected the tempo of operations. On 
4 July, Lieutenant Colonel Raneley A. Brown's KC-130s 
began an emergency shutde of critical cargo from Cubi 
Point to Nam Phong, to build up stocks of fuel and 
ordnance. Without a 15- to 30-day amount of sup- 
plies on hand, General O'Donnell believed TF Delta 
would be dependent upon a constant flow of daily 
shipments from the Air Force at Udorn, 77 road kilo- 
meters to the north. 35 

Other difficulties arose when supplies of matting, 
generators, and lighting became short. Shared group 
and wing ground support equipment (GSE) was in 
short supply because the number and dispersion of 
detachments exceeded authorized allowances of equip- 
ment. A solution to this was the consolidation of main- 
tenance Marines and equipment at common locations 
to support a number of detachments. Further 
problems cited for sustained operations at Nam Phong 
were with TACAN and liquid oxygen equipment 
failures. This situation was compounded by clouds of 
insects that jammed filters and heavy rains that vir- 
tually turned the area into a swamp. 36 

Thunder from the Sea, Fire from the Sky 
During 1972, Marine advisors believed their value 

to the South Vietnamese was directly related to their 

The location of Marine units at Nam Phong was a remote shipping point for both per- 
sonnel and material. As an expeditionary base, everything needed to power it had to 
be produced on the spot. Logistics Support Group Delta ("Miracles Done Immediately") 
fulfilled these needs. This power plant dispensed electricity to run the base service facilities. 

Task Force Delta Command Chronology 



Task Force Delta Command Chronology 

Aviation demands for liquid oxygen and nitrogen were met by local "expeditionary " equip- 
ment that required art, as well as science, to be made to work in field conditions. 

Air traffic control communication and electronic support was by Marine Air Traffic Con- 
trol Unit 62. This backing included the control tower, precision radar, surveillance radar, 
and the associated navigational aids required for around-the-clock air operations. 

Task Force Delta Command Chronology 





Marine Corps Historical Collection 
The advisors were required to put more emphasis on turning the control of supporting 
arms over to the South Vietnamese, anticipating the time when the Americans would 
leave. A mixed Vietnamese-American control party coordinates air and naval gunfire. 

ability to request and control supporting arms — air- 
craft, artillery, and naval gunfire. They were only a 
"troop without a rifle" if they could not. In fire sup- 
port coordination, the efforts of Marine Advisory Unit 
and ANGLICG" personnel merged, with advisors be- 
coming supporting arms coordinators and ANGLICO 
members becoming involved with tactical advice. 
Colonel Donald L. Price remembered that every move 
or stop he made with his VNMC battalion caused him 
to go down his supporting arms checklist from mor- 
tars, artillery, naval gunfire, and air to medevac agen- 
cies and procedures; all as taught in Marine Corps 
service schools and observed closely by the Vietnamese 
Marines who saw it work when needed. 37 

The South Vietnamese relied on supporting arms 
because the number of enemy forces and defenses 
made tactical surprise difficult to achieve, particular- 
ly after the battlefield had become immovable along 
fixed lines. The success of the assault landings con- 
ducted by the 9th MAB and the Vietnamese Marines 
depended, in part, on the availability, control, and 
coordination of firepower from Vietnamese and 
American forces* This effort was hindered earlier in 

*Fot the period from June through December 1972, the Viet- 
namese Marine Division was supported by the expenditure of 
1,457,142 105mm artillery rounds; 161,058 155mm artillery rounds; 
289,963 naval gunfire rounds, 4.959 tactical air sorties; and 698 Arc 
Light sorties. (Marine Advisory Unit Historical Summary, 1972) 

the year by a lack of controlling agencies and later on 
by the volume and complexity of fire coordination ef- 
forts required to use this support effectively. 38 There- 
fore the majority of the American Marines sent to 
Vietnam to augment the VNMC during 1972 had fire- 
support and communications backgrounds. 

Previous VNMC work in fire-support coordination 
was based upon battalion- and brigade-level ex- 
perience where the commander had direct-support ar- 
tillery. The VNMC unit commanders, some of whom 
had been trained in U.S. Marine schools, observed their 
advisor's effort at the unit level in plotting fire sup- 
port down to the battalion-level mortars and were 
aware of the vital need to integrate the various weapons 
systems. Their orientation was not conducive to con- 
trol and coordination by the division, which lacked 
the requisite personnel and communications 
equipment. 38 

During the 1972 period, American supporting units 
often required complete and detailed planning earli- 
er than reasonably could be expected from the South 
Vietnamese in I Corps.** The Vietnamese Marine Di- 
vision, with its attached American advisors and AN- 
GLICO personnel, met these requirements in most 
cases. In this process General Lan and his staff select- 

**The combat operations in northern MR I were land operations 
supported from the sea rather than purely amphibious operations. 



VNMC Division Supporting Arms Schedule 

for 11 July 1972 Assault 

Naval Gunfire* 

2400 - 0600 
0600 - 0800 
0800 - L-Hour 

2,400 rounds harassment and interdiction fires 
1,500 rounds preparation fires 
On-call direct-support fires 

(Two direct-support ships for VNMC Brigade 147 on D-l, three direct- 
support ships as of 0800 D-Day) 


2400 - 0600 
0600 - 0800 
0800 - L-Hour 

Harassment and interdiction fites 

Preparation fires 

On-call ditect-support fires 

Tactical Air 

0800 - 1140 

Ten flights of tactical air 

(Six sorties of U.S. aircraft with M84 bombs, two sorties of VNAF aircraft 
with CBU55s — between thitd and fourth B-52 Arc Lights) 
One airborne U.S. forward air controller on station until 1900** 

On-Call Tactical Air 

1200 — 1230 
1230 - 1300 
1300 - 1900 

One sortie with bombs and napalm 
One sortie with bombs and napalm 
Two sorties per hour 

Air Cavalry 

Command and control helicopter 
Two light observation helicopters 
Eight helicopter, gunships 
Two search and rescue helicopters 

*An alternate naval gunfire plan was developed for 0800 — 1140 should weather preclude 
the use of tactical air during this period. 

**A naval gunfire spotter was airborne with the FAC aircraft. The FAC was available to con- 
trol airstrikes if naval gunfire targets were not available; however, priority was given to naval 
gunfire missions in the objective area. 

Adapted from the Song Than 9-72 Folder, Marine Advisory Unit File 



ed specific objectives, while General Miller and his 
staff determined landing zones and beaches. Fire- 
support plans were then developed for two to three 
hours of preparatory fire from air, naval gunfire, and 
the VNMC Division and ARVN corps artillery; B-52 
bombing of the landing zone or beaches; and tactical 
air strikes just prior to landing the assault forces (see 
chart with this chapter). 40 

General Lan's staff used overlays and target lists to 
plan helicopter approach and retirement lanes, land- 
ing zones, friendly positions, and required fires. AN- 
GLICO, in conjunction with USAF and VNMC 
planners, produced joint schedules of fire that were 
based upon Arc Light support availability. Delivery of 
fires was made according to time schedules with fluc- 
tuations in tactical air availability being covered by ar- 
tillery and naval fires. Plans remained flexible until 
the B-52 support was confirmed, usually by 1600 the 
day prior to the operation. The Seventh Air Force also 
needed air requests the day prior to execution, which 
conflicted with the Eighth Air Force confirmation 
schedule. This situation was alleviated when the 
Eighth Air Force confirmation time was changed to 
1400 to coincide with the Seventh Air Force. The MR 1 
Direct Air Support Center received its copies of plans 
from the USAF liaison officer of the VNMC Division, 
and also briefed the supporting tactical air support 
squadron for assignments, planned targets, on-station 
aircraft, post-landing support, and air controller re- 
quirements. Artillery requirements were assigned to 
supporting units by the VNMC Division Artillery 
representative with VNMC brigade input in the form 
of requests via the artillery chain of command. 

The VNMC Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer, or his 
I Corps counterpart, delivered completed plans to the 
Naval Gunfire Support Unit (Task Unit 70.8.9). The 
Naval Gunfire Support Group staff assigned targets, 
missions, and fire-support stations. Overall naval gun- 
fire support in early 1972 was hampered by the decline 
in "gun" ships from 292 vessels in Fiscal Year 1965 to 
128 in Fiscal Year 1973- When the spring offensive be- 
gan, there was a shortage of ships to meet the demand 
for fire support* Arrival of the USS Newport News 

'Lieutenant Colonel D'Wayne Gray of Sub Unic One and advi- 
sors with forward VNMC battalions credit two destroyers, the USS 
Buchanan (DDG 14) and the USS Anderson (DD 786) with blunting 
the NVA ground attack across the DMZ during the first days of 
the offensive, a time when poor weathet restricted tactical air sup- 
port. Captain John W. Ripley stated that, at Dong Ha, naval gun- 
fite was responsive to fire requests in every case ". . . and was the 
only supporting arm which could respond with a volume of fite 
approaching that of the enemy's." (Ripley intvw) 

(CA 148) with 8" guns provided an increase in capa- 
bilities, if not in numbers, from the available destroy- 
ers and their 5"54 and 5"38 guns. 41 Demands for 
support multiplied as targets south of the DMZ in- 
creased and were further expanded as restrictions 
against targets in North Vietnam were removed. 

Generals Metzger and Miller believed that any am- 
phibious landing by American Marines required six to 
eight destroyers and a cruiser for support. Such oper- 
ations also needed local air superiority provided by an 
estimated two aircraft carriers and two Da Nang-based 
fighter squadrons. On 19 April 1972, General Miller 
noted that the Navy, engaged in Operation Lineback- 
er, could not provide the necessary forces to support 
amphibious landings in North Vietnam. FRAC's Major 
General Frederick J. Kroesen, Jr., voiced his opposition 
to amphibious operations north of the DMZ, because 
that would result in reduced naval gunfire support to 
MR 1 at a crucial time. The demands for support for 
both Seventh Fleet operations and MACV operations 
were in constant conflict, influencing 9th MAB rela- 
tions with VNMC and FRAC. A related constraint on 
naval gunfire was the nonavailability of aerial spotting. 
Adequate numbers of USAF aircraft to meet ANGLI- 
CO needs, as well as aircraft capable of surviving aloft 
in northern MR 1 and North Vietnam, were not avail- 
able. As a result, naval gunfire was limited to either 
direct or unobserved fires of decreased effectiveness. 

ANGLICO's Lieutenant Colonel George E. Jones 
believed that the problem of quality and quantity of 
naval gunfire support resolved itself by mid-year when 
targets of opportunity declined along the coast and 
support to the ARVN Airborne Division increased in 
the drive towards Quang Tri City. The need for quali- 
fied fire-support personnel and communications 
equipment for the South Vietnamese was recognized, 
but never organized prior to the ceasefire and with- 
drawal of American assets. 42 

A subjective comment on the battlefield effect of 
concentrated firepower was provided by a North Viet- 
namese Army veteran of the 1972 Quang Tri City 
fighting who recalled a B-52 Arc Light. As the batt- 
lefield became very quiet and he knew something was 
going to happen: 

I just looked up into the sky and saw how beautiful the 
day was, the sun was shining. And then we saw the bombs, 
tound big black discs .... the noise of the bombs and you 
couldn't see anything at all because of the smoke and the 
dust and we couldn't hear anything at all . . . . 43 

War in the Ether 
No less a part of effective firepower was the targeting 



Department of Defense Photo (USN) 1151898 
Supporting arms fire, such as that from the 8-inch, .55-caliber guns of the USS Newport 
News was not available to the Vietnamese, except through continued American partici- 
pation in the war. This applied to the full range of air power as well naval gunfire. 

Air power, such as from B-52 Arc Light strikes stopped North Vietnamese armor at Quang 
Tri and An hoc, where this Communist T-54 tank was unable to climb out of a bomb crater. 

Photo courtesy of Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 



efforts by Captain Clarence W. Phillips with 12 men 
of Detachment "N," 1st Radio Battalion. This support 
reached the VNMC Division through Captain Frank 
M. Izenour, Jr., the Marine advisor with the main di- 
vision command post at Hue. Detachment "N" had 
originally deployed with the 9th MAB for the exer- 
cise in Korea. Integrated with the Task Force 76 Joint 
Intelligence Center and operating from the sup- 
plemental radio spaces of the USS Blue Ridge using 
input from the service cryptologic agencies in 
Southeast Asia, the detachment provided signal - 
intelligence information. On 18 April, signal- 
intelligence tasking authority was passed to General 
Miller, commanding 9th MAB, and the next day the 
detachment was augmented by another officer and 11 
enlisted operators from the 1st Radio Battalion in 

Detachment "N" had originally deployed with the 
9th MAB for the exercise in Korea. Integrated with 
the Task Force 76 Joint Intelligence Center and oper- 
ating from the supplemental radio spaces of the Blue 
Ridge using input from the service cryptologic agencies 
in Southeast Asia, the detachment provided signal- 
intelligence information. On 18 April, signal-intel- 
ligence tasking authority was passed to General Miller, 

commanding 9th MAB, and the next day the detach- 
ment was augmented by another officer and 11 en- 
listed operators from the 1st Radio Battalion in Hawaii. 

Operating from the Blue Ridge posed "reception" 
problems because of the distance from shore. From 
24 April 1972, two or three direct support elements 
were in operation from naval gunfire ships at any one 
time, with control remaining at the headquarters ele- 
ment on the Blue Ridge. An additional 10 operators 
expanded the detachment, with further resources 
available as needed from the Marine Support Bat- 
talion * 

In July, Captain Phillips and his men moved to the 
USS Paul Revere (LPA 248) with the 9th MAB staff 
when the USS Blue Ridge returned to the United 
States. The detachment analysts relocated to the Naval 
Communications Station, San Miguel, Philippines, 
until 21 January 1973, when Detachment "N" was 
deactivated. It provided timely and continuous sup- 
port throughout the III MAF response to the North 
Vietnamese invasion. 44 

*The Marine Support Battalion was a component of the Naval 
Security Group and consisted of companies that were assigned with 
Naval Security Group Activities worldwide. 



Ceasefire and Consolidation 

The Final Act— Operation Countdown, On the Land. . .' 
Operation Countdown, '. . . and Sea— Operation Countdown, ', . . and Air' 

The Final Act 

General Frederick C. Weyand, USA, the last MACV 
commander, insisted to Lieutenant General Louis 
Metzger that he had to have Marines off the coast of 
South Vietnam to ensure the security of the remaining 
Americans in the country, support that could be pro- 
vided only by Metzger's III MAE At a minimum, this 
was with two Marine amphibious units (MAUs) at sea 
and the planes of Marine Aircraft Groups 12 and 15. 
General Metzger later asserted that this period of the 
Vietnam war "repeatedly demonstrated the many 
functions that only amphibious forces can perform." 1 

Determined resistance by the South Vietnamese and 
direct support by the Americans, including the air 
campaign against North Vietnam, halted and then 
reversed the Communist "Nguyen-Hue" Spring Offen- 
sive. President Nixon had used diplomatic and mili- 
tary pressure to bring about a settlement of the war as 
the South Vietnamese regained lost territory and the 
aerial bombing and mining of North Vietnam took 
effect. By 11 October 1972, the mining and bombing 
efforts had closed ports through which North Vietnam 
had obtained 85 percent of its foreign trade: "seaborne 
imports into North Vietnam have been cut from over 
250,000 tons a month to almost none." 2 By then, U S- 
authorities believed the North Vietnamese wanted to 
reach an agreement. As a result, on 23 October 1972, 
U.S. Armed R>rces stopped air and naval gunfire bom- 
bardment north of the 20th Parallel. But numerous 
false starts and recriminations by both parties and their 
allies occurred as the proposed ceasefire approached. 

President Nixon authorized Operation Linebacker 
II on 18 December 1972 when the North Vietnamese 
failed to act in good faith on the previous ceasefire 
proposals, opening the way to the Christmas bomb- 
ing of Hanoi and the virtual destruction of critical tar- 
gets in North Vietnam. Referring to the "late 
December 1972 US Blitz on North Vietnam," the 
Communists stated that the Nixon Administration 
had mobilized almost all its strategic bombers in 
Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and tactical aircraft in 
South Vietnam, Thailand, and with the Seventh Fleet, 
"to conduct a strategic bombing operation against 
North Viet Nam the savageness of which is un- 

precedented in the whole history of the US war of ag- 
gression in this country." 3 The intensity of operations 
was unmatched by any of the previous eight years of 
strikes against North Vietnam. Linebacker II's blows 
against military and economic targets brought the 
North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table. 

The "Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring 
Peace in Vietnam" was signed as the result of negoti- 
ations by Dr. Henry Kissinger and Le Due Tho at the 
Paris Conference on Vietnam. The ceasefire was a part 
of an accord that met both American and North Viet- 
namese demands that had evolved during the course of 
the conflict. It was a unilateral accord with the less- 
than-wholehearted concurrence of the Republic of 
Vietnam and the Communist "Provisional Revolution- 
ary Government." It called for cessation of all military 
operations in North and South Vietnam to go into 
effect at 2400 Greenwich Mean Time, 27 January 1973. 
All forces would remain in place, with disengagement 
supervised by a Two Party Joint Military Commission; 
only replacement of existing equipment and supplies 
was authorized. 4 Within 60 days all Americans would 
withdraw, all prisoners of war would be returned, and 
all U.S. mines would be cleared from North Viet- 
namese waterways. Seventh Fleet and III MAF opera- 
tions in both North and South Vietnam ceased on 28 
January 1973 with the signing of these accords. For 
the Americans, including the U.S. Marines, this agree- 
ment brought an end of combat and support opera- 
tions* The ceasefire campaign was over. 5 

For the Vietnamese of both sides, the struggle con- 
tinued, fought hard from the morning of the cease- 
fire and for a month or two thereafter. The Com- 
munists throughout South Vietnam had put out the 
red and blue flags of the National Liberation Front 
in a land-grab effort just prior to the ceasefire, expect- 
ing the South Vietnamese to be hampered by the 
terms and timing of the agreement. The South Viet- 
namese countered with military attacks during and af- 
ter the ceasefire, which were successful in defending 
territory that they already held. 

While the major American equipment and resup- 

*Operations continued in Laos until 21 February 1973 and in 
Cambodia until 15 August 1973. 




Adapted ftom Government of Vietnam Material 



Photo courtesy of LtCol George E. Jones, USMC (Ret) 
Prior to departure from South Vietnam, Sub Unit One's officer-in-charge, LtCol George 
E. Jones, is presented a gift by the commanding officer of the ARVN Airborne Training 
Center, Col Vinh, honoring ANGLICO's close relationship with the Airborne Division. 

ply effort ended with the ceasefire, NVA infiltration 
continued. This included numbers of armored vehi- 
cles and artillery moved into base areas in South Viet- 
nam. Although the ARVN and NVA had equal 
numbers of armored vehicles inside South Vietnam, 
the North Vietnamese had twice as many with trained 
crews. Similar buildups were detected in artillery and 
antiaircraft weapons that countered any South Viet- 
namese air superiority. 6 

Operation Countdown, 'On the Land. . ' 

Operation Countdown, the final withdrawal of Free 
World forces from Vietnam, began immediately after 
the agreement was signed and the withdrawal of Ma- 
rine Corps units followed on schedule* First to leave 
was Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO. From 1 April 
through 10 September 1972, this specialized unit bore 
the brunt of the increased demands for air and naval 
gunfire support throughout the whole of Vietnam.*' 1 ' 7 
Lieutenant General Louis H. Wilson, Jr., the FMF Pa- 
cific commander, observed that Sub Unit One's depar- 
ture made it the last Fleet Marine Force unit to leave 
Vietnam and that the aggressive spitit displayed by 

*As of 31 January 1973, there were 21,821 American servicemen 
in South Vietnam. (MACV ComdHist 1973. p. 476) 

**Sub Unit One lost three killed and three missing and suffered 
14 wounded in acrion. 

ANGLICO airborne and ground spotters, combined 
with the firepower of Seventh Fleet naval gunfire 
ships, "was given considerable credit for stemming the 
tide of the NVA invasion in MR 1 during March/April 
1972." 8 

Lieutenant Colonel George E.Jones, Sub Unit One's 
last commander in Vietnam, recorded that on the 
morning of 28 January 1973 his Marines and sailors 
throughout Vietnam's four military regions ceased ac- 
tive operations in support of the South Vietnamese. 
Like other redeploying units, there was an incremen- 
tal transfer of personnel and equipment phased by "X- 
Days."*** Jones stated simply on 17 February 1973 that 
Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO, "ceased to have an 
operational mission and all efforts were directed 
towards the deactivation of the unit." 9 With a majority 
of personnel and equipment gone, the remaining 
members boarded flights for duty stations elsewhere 
in the Marine Corps. This marked the end of eight 
continuous years of combat support to the South Viet- 
namese Armed Forces and their allies. 10 Sub Unit One, 
1st ANGLICO transferred to FMFPac and deactivat- 
ed as a unit on 14 March 1973- 

The Marine Advisory Unit was also deactivated by 
the ceasefire. It had been in the process of withdrawing 

***X-Day being the ceasefire date of 28 January 1973. 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800899 
The American departure from Vietnam occurred at the same time as the continued delivery 
of equipment to the South Vietnamese. Here a 60-ton crane loads a LVTP-5 for transpor- 
tation to Phung Thay for the Vietnamese Marines as part of Project Enhance Plus. 

battalion advisors and shifting the emphasis of support 
to logistics, training, and staff functions as pan of the 
overall reduction of American forces at the beginning 
of 1972. The NVA invasion reversed this as the unit 
was totally committed to the fight. The advisor struc- 
ture had been reinforced by additional ANGLICO, 
U.S. Army, U.S. Air fbrce, and US. Navy personnel 
as it deployed to MR 1 in April 1972. According to 
the Senior Marine Advisor, they all "encountered ex- 
ceptionally intense and continuous enemy artillery 
attacks-by-fire, ground attacks, and the introduction 
of large numbers of enemy armored units." 11 To com- 
pensate for casualties, disease, and exhaustion among 
the Marines, nine additional temporary-duty advisors 
were assigned* The first of their number arrived in 
July and a second group in October 1972. At the peak 
of the Spring Offensive, the advisory unit reached a 
strength of 66, including US. Navy medical personnel. 

Anticipating the withdrawal of American forces at 
the end of 1972 and possible restrictions on support, 
the Departments of Defense and State sought to ac- 
celerate the delivery of equipment approved for Viet- 
namization programs. Project Enhance Plus began on 

*ft>urteen advisors were wounded in action during 1972. 

14 October 1972 and was completed with the delivery 
of 39 armored personnel carriers from the Army, 7 Air 
fbrce aircraft, and 31 amphibian tractors from the Ma- 
rines. These high-priority items, except for the am- 
phibian tractors, were delivered by air, interrupted 
only by the tentative ceasefire with North Vietnam. 12 

The U S. Marines provided the Vietnamese Marines 
1 LVTR-5, 2 LVTC-5s, and 28 LVTP-5s, all amphibian 
tractors in recovery, command, or personnel carrier 
configurations. These tractors were taken from III MAF 
inventories to hasten delivery and loaded on US. Navy 
amphibious ships at Okinawa beginning 8 November 
1972. Delivery was completed by 27 November 1972, 
when all the vehicles were unloaded at the VNMC 
compound near Saigon. American Marines from the 
1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion and the 3d fbrce 
Service Regiment accompanied these tracked vehicles 
to provide needed instruction in their use and main- 
tenance, fbllow-on training was arranged by Major 
Oliver M. Whipple, Jr., advisor to Captain Doan Thien 
Niem's fledgling Amphibian Tractor Company, in- 
cluding rehearsals at sea with the 9th Marine Am- 
phibious Brigade (MAB) and Seventh Fleet 
amphibious groups. 13 

General Wilson at FMFPac and the senior advisor, 



Colonel Dorsey, believed the arrival of these amphib- 
ian tractors provided the VNMC Division an assault 
capability previously lacking, that allowed operations 
to be conducted north of the DMZ. In reality, the 
VNMC was saddled with additional maintenance and 
supply problems and amphibious capability was never 
established because the Vietnamese Navy did not as- 
sign ships for amphibious operations or training.* 14 
Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird allowed the Ma- 
rine Corps to fund $714 million in Fiscal Year 1974 
to provide replacement LVT-7 series amphibian trac- 
tors. As the new-model LVTP-7s became available, they 
were to be exchanged on a one-for-one basis for the 
LVTP-5s. This decision was approved by the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff in November 1972, but was then can- 
celed by Secretary Laird in January 1973, putting an 
effective end to the program. 

Colonel Dorsey and his staff had approached the 
ceasefire "in accordance with MACV directives" and 
planned as if for any other military evolution. They 
conceived three phases, keyed on "X-Day:" standdown 
(prior to X-Day); withdrawal (X to X + 45); and roll- 
up (X + 45 to X + 60). Specific tasks had to be accom- 
plished during each phase, along the lines of standard 
military staff responsibilities: personnel; intelligence; 
operations; and logistics. The unit-level advisory ef- 
fort continued through 16 February 1973, when the 
last two Marine advisors departed from the brigade 
and battalion levels. The American authorities in 
South Vietnam at the time reported that the "active 
USMC field advisory effort is terminated." 

Living side-by-side with their counterparts, U.S. Ma- 
rine advisors had provided tactical advice and sought 
to enhance Vietnamese Marine Corps combat effec- 
tiveness. The advisory unit "contributed immeasura- 
bly towards the development of the Vietnamese 
Marine Corps into a thoroughly professional fighting 
organization." 15 The last Senior Marine Advisor wrote 
in his final historical report about the division's finest 
hour, when two brigades of Vietnamese Marines were 
ordered to hold the invading Communist army at the 
My Chanh River, "and hold they did. The My Chanh 
Line was subjected to tremendous pressure and 
although it bent at times, it never broke. This was due 
to responsive supporting arms fire plans, excellent 

*In June 1974, VNMC Logistic Support Branch head, LtCol 
George E, "Jody" Strickland, justified the continued existence of 
the LVT program to the Defense Attache Office because of cross- 
country mobility and armored infantry attack value rather than the 
amphibious assault value. (LrCol George E. Strickland, Commenrs 
on draft ms, dtd 4Jan90) 

small-unit leadership, and the courage and tenacity 
of individual Vietnamese Marines." 

In addition to standdown affairs. Colonel Dorsey 
had to request spare parts for the LVT-5s which had not 
been included in the previous support agreements be- 
cause of the planned acquisition of the LVT-7s. In 
March 1973, General Wilson and Admiral Bernard A. 
Clarey replied that spare parts were not available 
through the Marine Corps, but suggested the Republic 
of China as a source on a "government to government" 
basis. By that time, the advisory group believed the 
Vietnamese Marine Division was "almost totally self- 
sufficient in tactical operations and had made giant 
strides in self-sufficiency in all other areas." 18 The 
Americans described General Lan as a tough, profes- 
sional Marine who demanded high standards of disci- 
pline and obedience. The Vietnamese Marines were 
seen as a "sharp, effective fighting unit" with ability 
and experience in independent, combined, and joint 

Colonel Dorsey reported on 27 March 1973. With 
the exception of minor alterations to withdrawal plans, 
"the phase down of the Marine Advisory Unit was ac- 
complished in a professional manner without apprecia- 
ble problems. Until the end, the Marine Advisory Unit 
maintained a readiness to return to combat operations 
in support of the Vietnamese Marine Corps." 17 

The Marine Advisory Unit closed down on 29 March 
1973 after serving with the Vietnamese Marine Corps 
for 18 years. That same day. Commander, Naval Forces 
Vietnam and the Naval Advisory Group ended an era 
of commitment to the Vietnamese Navy and Marine 
Corps. All remaining tasks were turned over to the 
VNMC Logistics Support Branch, Navy Division, of 
the Defense Attache Office (DAO). 18 The improve- 
ment of amphibious capability and equipment main- 
tenance were felt to be the two areas where "major 
DAO assistance is required." 19 These problems were 
passed to Lieutenant Colonel Walter D. Fillmore to 
resolve as head of the recently created Vietnamese Ma- 
rine Corps Logistic Support Branch of the Defense At- 
tache's Office in Saigon. 20 

Headed by a Marine lieutenant colonel, the VNMC 
Logistic Support Branch consisted of five U.S. Depart- 
ment of Defense civilians and 27 Vietnamese civilians. 
Functions of the Naval Advisory Group, Vietnam, were 
continued for maintenance and supply under existing 
support agreements through the Office of the Chief, 
Navy Division. This organization was a component of 
Army Major General John E. Murray's Defense Attache 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800654 
Americans were still present in Military Region 1, but with a less active role than during 
the previous year's fighting. These 9th MAB Marines are examining captured Communist 
weapons in front of the Vietnamese Marine Division command post at Huong Dien. 

As active combat ended, the ready forces of the Seventh Fleet remained for a variety of 
contingencies. With the departure of the USS Blue Ridge, the amphibious and landing 
force headquarters was on the USS Paul Revere, here for joint training near Tan My. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A800726 



Office, which superseded MACV in March 1973. Gen- 
eral Murray had previously served as the CinCPac J-4 
and had been Admiral McCain's representative to 
MACV during the Spring Offensive. Instead of tradi- 
tional attache duties, Murray's terms of reference in 
this assignment were for "cleaning up the battlefields" 
with the assistance of the Defense Logistics Agency. 21 

Lieutenant Colonel Fillmore monitored, managed, 
and coordinated supply and maintenance require- 
ments for U.S. Marine-peculiar and U.S. Army-com- 
mon equipment transferred to the Vietnamese Ma- 
rines. In his initial report, Fillmore indicated the 
difference between his logistics branch and the former 
Marine Advisory Unit. Because of the physical sepa- 
ration of the VNMC Logistics Support Branch in Sai- 
gon from the Vietnamese Marine Division in Quang 
Tri Province, and with the limited number of person- 
nel within the branch, "it is extremely difficult for the 
Branch to accurately report on VNMC operational 
matters." 22 

Operation Countdown, '. . .and Sea' 

Brigadier General Paul G. Graham's tour as 9th Ma- 
rine Amphibious Brigade commander began on 16 

November 1972. It was characterized by the prepara- 
tion of contingency plans and liaison with MACV to 
support final troop withdrawals and the recovery of 
American prisoners. The 31st MAU and 33d MAU ro- 
tated in providing an amphibious force off the coast 
of MR 1. During this period, HMM-164 recovered the 
crew of a downed Air Force B-52 bomber from the 
Tonkin Gulf. The Marines provided troop training to 
the VNMC in December 1972 and January 1973. Col- 
onel Charles T. Williamson, the 33d MAU com- 
mander, recalled that he worked closely with the ad- 
visory unit in late January 1973, and that this involved 
launching and maneuvering the LVT-5 tractors in the 
water: "I had been watching the tractors being driven 
by the Vietnamese until around noon and was just 
leaving the bridge of the flagship, USS Cleveland 
(LPD 7), when the Commodore called me back and 
handed me a 'flash' message," a ceasefire had been 
signed and the Amphibious Ready Group would 
return to Okinawa to prepare for Operation End 
Sweep. After going ashore to the 1st Regional As- 
sistance Command (FRAC) headquarters in Da Nang 
to coordinate the abrupt discontinuation of the joint 
training, Colonel Williamson returned to the 

Navy and Marine attack aircraft continued to be used for the conduct of direct air sup- 
port during weather conditions that prevented them seeing their ground targets. These 
A-4s from MAG-12 used their own instrumentation to release bombs in low cloud cover- 
Photo courtesy of Cdr Peter B. Mersky, USNR 



Photo courtesy of LtCol Michael S Kelly, USMC (Ret) 
As the ceasefire took effect, Marine units awaited the outcome of redeployment plans. 
Outside the group command post are the commander of MAG-12, Col Dean Macho, and 
the commanding officer of the 3/9 security force, Capt Michael S, Kelly. The sedan on 
the left had been passed down from the last commanding general of 111 MAF, to 3d MAB, 
then to ANGLICO, and finally to Col Macho, as the senior Marine commander in Vietnam- 

Cleveland at dusk. 'As we lifted off, I looked down 
at Da Nang, which I had first seen in the Spring of 
1965 .... I never had such an empty feeling." 23 

After the ceasefire, the 9th MAB Headquarters 
returned to Okinawa and operational control of afloat 
Marine amphibious units was turned over to III MAE 
General Graham later reported that existing opera- 
tional schedules as well as the task organization and 
missions of the 9th MAB and its subordinate units 
quickly changed: "No longer did the contingency evac- 
uation or security responsibilities have priority. Instead 
emphasis was placed on using MAB and amphibious 
assets to support Operation Homecoming Afloat and 
Operation End Sweep." 24 On 31 January 1973, Seventh 
Fleet directed the commanders of the 9th MAB and 
TF 76 to work out the details for organizing a surface 
ready group to support contingency operations for 
FRAC and the American Embassy in Saigon. 25 

The military situation in MR 1, according to the 9th 
MAB liaison officer with FRAC, Major Howard L. 
Richey, indicated that NVA and ARVN activity would 
not pose an immediate threat to Americans in the 
region. On 2 February 1973, Major Richey observed a 
state of "cautious optimism" prevailing towards the 
ceasefire in MR 1 and that Da Nang "is in full obser- 

vance of Tet." 28 Of a more prophetic note was the 5 
February situation report that observed that South 
Vietnamese commanders "at all levels in MR 1 expres- 
sed deep concern over withdrawal of U.S. advisors at 
this time. Equally concerned over failure of ICCS [In- 
ternational Commission of Control and Supervision] 
to appear on scene to ensure compliance with cease 
fire, and failure of NVA to respect terms of Paris 
agreement." 27 

The 9th MAB stood down from operations and 
deactivated on 9 February 1973, becoming the 9th 
MAB nucleus staff and III MAF forward command 
post on the flagship of Task Force 76, the USS Paul 
Revere (LPA 248). 28 The 31st MAU remained on ships 
as the available ready force. Colonel Ray A. Stephens 
wrote that his unit was directed through a series of 
evolutions to assist in prisoner recovery and mine clear- 
ing at the same time. Then III MAF "cancelled this 
assignment and alerted the MAU to reconfigure for 
evacuation operations in South Vietnam." 29 This was 
altered drastically when Seventh Fleet assigned ARG 
Alpha and Bravo amphibious ships to support the 
Mine Counter Measures Force, Task Force 78. Control 
of HMM-165 and HMH-164 also went to TF 78 as it 
gathered forces. Fleet Marine Force, Pacific cryptically 
recorded that "until mine sweeping operations were 



Task Force Delta Command Chronology 
Security concerns continued for Task Force Delta. But Nam Phong's distant location provid- 
ed the best defense. A sapper demonstration team is used to show task force personnel 
how terrorist attacks could be conducted through the base's defensive perimeter. 

Air bases in South Vietnam remained the target of Communist attacks. Smoke rises as a 
group of rockets hits at DaNang in this period. These were not followed by ground assaults. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



Task Borce Delta Command Chronology 
Year's end at Nam Phong in 1972 was marked by arrival of the Bob Hope Christmas Show. 
MAG-15 commander Col Aubrey W. Talbert,Jr., introduces Hope on an improvised stage. 

completed, III MAF forces would be forced to oper- 
ate without its full complement of helicopters." 30 
Seventh Fleet and III MAF reconstituted the amphibi- 
ous ready force by organizing a surface-assault- 
configured ready group of five ships from Amphibi- 
ous Squadron One: an LKA, LSD, and three LSTs. 31 * 
Headquarters, 3 1st MAU remained on the USS 
Cleveland and Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/4 was 
BLT Alpha. Through March 1973, the amphibious 
ready group and BLT Alpha remained afloat off Da 
Nang on a 12-hour recall to MR 1. By April 1973, the 
33d MAU on Okinawa was deactivated and the 
Western Pacific afloat forces returned to the posture 
of the previous year, the 31st MAU with Amphibious 
Ready Group Alpha and BLT Bravo with ARG Bravo. 32 

Operation Countdown, '. . . and Air' 

The year 1972 had witnessed Marines flying 15,412 
sorties over South Vietnam** and 539 sorties over 
North Vietnam, mostly in Route Package l. 33 The New 
Year had begun on a discordant note with an acciden- 
tal air strike on Da Nang Air Base on 8 January 1973, 

•These were the USS Tulare (LKA 112). Monticello (LSD 35), San 
Bernardino (LST 118?), Racine (LST 1191), and Fresno (LST 1182). 
**19 percent of rhe tactical air effort. 

causing damage and casualties to units on the ground. 
A flight of Marine and Navy aircraft, under U.S. Air 
Force control, bombed the western corner of the air- 
base because of a F-4 "Loran Bird" cockpit error. 34 
Despite this, operations continued throughout the 

Marine Aircraft Group 12 flight operations con- 
tinued in South Vietnam and in Cambodia during 
January 1973. Colonel Dean Macho claimed credit for 
S64 enemy casualties and 293 buildings and 956 
bunkers destroyed or damaged during this final peri- 
od. MAG-12's 2,123 tons of ordnance destroyed S 
tanks, 12 artillery positions, 28 trucks, and 20 sam- 
pans, with numerous fires and secondary explosions 
being reported by the aircrews. 35 During the group's 
eighth month in combat, longer and heavier work 
loads were experienced to meet combat and withdraw- 
al requirements. Air strikes in Cambodia were three 
times more frequent than previous months with the 
"Cambodian Reds" moving south through Kiampong 
Thorn and Angkor Wat towards Phnom Penh. In Janu- 
ary, according to Colonel Macho, air strikes within 200 
prds of friendly positions "were not uncommon." The 
threat from antiaircraft gunfire and missiles remained 
high over the target areas. Weather was clear, even if 



inaccurate weather reports from Tan Son Nhut and 
Bien Hoa caused the MAG-12 duty officer to "back 
door" estimates of the ceiling and visibility used for 
crew briefs. 39 On 15 January 1973, Vietnamese Air 
Force forward air controllers (FAQ) took over control 
of all air strikes. Initial difficulties with language and 
procedures were overcome. By the end of the month 
Marine aviators were speaking pidgin Vietnamese as 
well as the FACs spoke pidgin English: "problems were 
few, courtesy was high, and the Vietnamese fliers were 
a pleasure to work with." 37 

A single volley of 122mm rockets hit the group area 
at 0227 on 26 January 1973- The Marine killed dur- 
ing the rocket attack. Private First Class Mark J. Miller, 
was the last Marine killed in action prior to the cease- 
fire. This was the same day as the final combat flights, 
with MAG-12 becoming the last American fixed-wing 
aviation unit to depart Vietnam. 38 With the cessation 

of combat operations throughout Vietnam on 27 Janu- 
ary 1973, the group made preparations to return to 
Iwakuni, Japan. Colonel Macho felt the move was 
"smooth and orderly with no major problems." This 
was through the efforts of First Lieutenant Edward J. 
Jobin, the MAG-12 embarkation officer, and the 
MAG-12 (Rear) Logistic Coordination Center under 
Chief Warrant Officer Larry G. Cravens at Iwakuni 36 
MAG-12 (Forward) aircraft departed Bien Hoa on 29 
January 1973. The retrograde began within 24 hours 
of the ceasefire, requiring the support of 70 transport 
"lifts" flying around the clock to move 600 Marines 
and 2,791,000 pounds of cargo over the next five days. 40 
The MAG's 28 A-4s arrived at Iwakuni, Japan, on 1 
February 1973 at 1430 and the remaining men and 
equipment followed on 3 February. 

For Task Force Delta, 1972 ended with the Bob Hope 
Christmas Show making an appearance at Nam 

Nam Phong continued to operate as an expeditionary field into 1973. The control tower 
crew, with its ever-present "crash truck," could depart on short notice when ordered to leave. 

Watercolor by John T. Dyer, Jr, Marine Corps Art Collection 

/JAM PtfOlXr- CO iTTta- -fDlvFR -tVp «^FWSB TRUCK, 



Task Force Delta Command Chronology 
Despite its temporary nature, Nam Phong had reached its peak of expansion and de- 
velopment, looking down the long axis of the runway, on the left is the flight line and 
maintenance areas, in the center is the headquarters, and farther left are the living spaces. 

A contemporary comment on the ceasefire is made by this squadron photograph of a 
bomb- and rocket- loaded V-4 Phantom. Forces remaining in Southeast Asia were unable 
to return to their home bases until allied prisoners of war were released by the enemy. 

Task fbece Delta Command Chronology 




Phong. Mr. Hope's arrival marked the seventh month 
of what had been perceived by some as a "90-day" 
deployment. Colonei Aubrey W. Talbert, Jr., of 
MAG-15 recalled that the start of 1973 was character- 
ized by continued planning for the several possible 
contingencies which might result from a cessation of 
hostilities in South Vietnam and "two major changes 
in the geographical areas into which combat sorties 
were flown." 41 Air operations in South Vietnam con- 
centrated on direct support to Republic of Vietnam 
units in MR 1 until 26 January 1973, after which they 
were directed to missions in Laos and Cambodia. That 
same day a rocket attack at Da Nang damaged two 
MAG-15 Phantoms on the ground being rearmed. 

By the end of January 1973, 380 tons of excess 
material were shipped to Japan. Preparations to leave 
Nam Phong began with the ceasefire agreement, but 
the uncertainty of the ceasefire and continued flights 
over Laos necessitated continued efforts to remain an 
effective force. Operations were flown against North 
Vietnamese targets in Laos until 21 February 1973 
when a ceasefire agreement was reached for this area. 
One Air Force "Raven" air controller working the Black 
Lion Operation near Pakse, Laos, wrote VMFA-115 to 
tell them "when you guys say that close air support 
is your business, you don't kid around .... I know 
it, the ground pounders know it, and the NVA know 

j t "42 Whil e prepared to "retrograde," TF Delta was 
kept at Nam Phong by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to sup- 
port any contingencies, particularly the enforcement 
of the ceasefire agreement, the recovery of American 
prisoners, and the mine-clearing operations in North 
Vietnam. The emphasis on combat again changed to 
training and waiting. 

To cite the chronology of significant events at the 
Marine Corps Command Center for 29 March 1973, 
"Operation Countdown completed," marking the end 
of the Marines' involvement in America's long war in 
Southeast Asia. This was the day after the last-known 
Marine prisoner of wax was released and as Marine par- 
ticipation in "post-war" operations continued. In ac- 
cordance with the ceasefire accords, the U.S. had left 
a residual force of less than 200 American servicemen 
in South Vietnam. There remained three U.S. Marines 
"in country" with the Defense Attache Office and the 
143-man State Department security guard* The Viet- 
namese Communists state of the period that for "the 
first time in 115 years, not a single foreign soldier was 
garrisoned on Vietnamese land." 43 

The three DAO Marines were Col 'William B. Fleming with the 
Plans and Liaison Branch, LtCol Walter D. Fillmore with the VNMC 
Logistics Branch, and Maj Richard F.Johnson with the Operations 
and Training Branch. 


In Enemy Hands 

Combatants or Hostages?— Egress Recap and Other Contingencies— Operation Homecoming 
Welcome Home Marine — Code of Conduct— MI As: The Joint Casualty Resolution Center 

Combatants or Hostages? 
By 1972, the return of missing and captured Ameri- 
cans in Southeast Asia had become a national objective 
for the United States. For the U.S. Marine Corps, this 
meant finding 136 missing Marines thought possibly 
to be in Communist captivity. 1 During 1972 alone, 24 
Marines were lost in action from III MAF and only four 
of these returned as prisoners the next year* Other 
Americans, including Marines, had been saved from 
capture or loss by search and rescue missions; 232 in- 
dividual recoveries were made during 1972, including 
the American advisors from the Quang Tri Citadel in 

The Communists claimed they treated "enemy sold- 
iers who have surrendered" with humanity. But a cap- 
tured Marine's probability of living or dying depended 
upon a number of circumstances, including his cap- 
tor's perception of the chances for evasion or escape 
and the immediate tactical situation. When captured, 
prisoners heard something like "You are now captured. 
We do not kill you. Just follow our command! We will 
have your arms tied up and take you to a safe place. 
Stand up and follow us right now!" 2 From then, the 
ordeal was essentially an individual experience.*** 

Headquarters Marine Corps monitored the status 
of Marines in captivity and tracked them as individu- 
als in both its Intelligence and Manpower Divisions. 
As near as could be determined, 48 of all the Ameri- 
cans known to have been captured in Southeast Asia 
were U.S. Marines. Of these, 9 died in captivity, 10 
escaped, 2 were released prior to 1973, 26 returned 

♦Missing Marines included nine in North Vietnam, eight in South 
Vietnam, and three in Laos. Most were aircrews. 

**The chance of successful rescue depended upon where an in- 
dividual was "lost ." Only seven Americans were recovered from North 
Vietnam out of 149 American fixed-wing aircraft lost there in 1972. 
A total of 23-9 American and South Vietnamese fixed wing aircraft 
were lost in combat in Southeast Asia during 1972. 

***This chapter is intended to document the return of some of 
these men in 1973. Any complete narrative about their ordeals will 
have to be based on the debriefs conducted upon their return and 
take into account the diverse circumstances of captivity, release, and 
rank. These debriefs, along with the majority of material on 
prisoners, remain classified by executive order for privacy and secu- 
rity. (OASD [ISA] Itr, 3Jan87) 

during Operation Homecoming, and 1 — Private First 
Class Robert R. Garwood -returned in 1979****3 
Individual conduct could not be evaluated while 
these men were prisoners, as the only information 
about them was dependent upon press reports and 
statements by visiting delegations to North Vietnam. 
Published stories or broadcasts by prisoners did not 
indicate the circumstances under which these state- 
ments were made. Prisoners were allowed to write a 
monthly letter, but most were never sent, except 
through "anti-war" groups favorable to the North Viet- 
namese.***** 4 

Over time, it became evident to the United States 
Government that the North Vietnamese were not 
abiding by the Geneva Convention and that not all 
American prisoners were living up to the U.S. Armed 
Forces Code of Conduct****** The Communists re- 

****The first Marine prisoner was taken on 31 December 1964 
and the last was captured on 26 September 1972, 

*****Prisoners did not receive mail until the late 1960s, and by 
the war's end only 13 relatives of Marine prisoners had received out- 
going letters, nine from North Vietnam and four from South 

******The Code of Conduct was written and published after 
the Korean War to provide principles to follow while in captivity. 
It is neither law nor regulation. It reads: 

I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard 
my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in 
their defense. 

I will never surrender of my own free will If in command, I will 
never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist. 

If I am captured, I will conrinue to resist by all means available, 
I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will 
accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy. 

If I am a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. 
I will give no information or take pan in any action which might 
be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. 
If not, 1 will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me 
and will back them up in every way. 

When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound 
to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will 
evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I 
will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and 
its allies or harmful to their cause. 

I will never forget that I am an American Fighting Man, respon- 
sible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made 
my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States 
of America. 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A900175 
Conditions in confinement -varied with location. In North Vietnam, prisons were ad- 
ministered by the Interior Ministry, with the prisoners exploited by the Army. This war- 
time picture shows two unidentified Americans working under guard in the north. 

nam were 11 Marines, all aviators and officers, their 
average age 30 years at time of capture. Some spent 
up to eight years in captivity, with 5.2 the mean. Two 
groups were captured in South Vietnam. These Ma- 
rines were younger, mostly enlisted men, and subject 
to a higher death rate in captivity. 6 They were con- 
fined in temporary camps in South Vietnam, Cam- 
bodia, and Laos for up to two and a half years. Most 
were moved to camps in North Vietnam by 1971. 

The "Southern Group" in MR 1 suffered the highest 
death toll of all as the result of harsh living condi- 
tions, rather than maltreatment during indoctrination 
and interrogation. The Communists originally kept 
about two dozen allied prisoners in a variety of jun- 
gle locations in the "Tarn Ky Complex" of South Viet- 
nam. The prisoners were confined in bamboo 
"tiger-cage" enclosures or were shackled to their "beds." 
Of 10 Marines in this gtoup, one was killed trying to 
escape, one was released, one remained with the Com- 
munists, and five died of various causes related to mal- 
nutrition** Corporal Jose J. Anzaldua, Jr., of H&S 
Company 2/5, observed that the minute any one of 
his group quit, "he was as good as dead. There was 

**The Marine who stayed behind was PFC Robert R. Garwood. 

fused to furnish complete listings of names or num- 
bers of detained prisoners, refused inspection of prison 
camps by the International Red Cross, neither an- 
nounced the locations nor otherwise marked prison 
camps, publically paraded American prisoners for 
propaganda purposes, allowed few prisoners to cor- 
respond with their next of kin, and tortured or other- 
wise coerced prisoners to make public confessions of 
criminal activity and anti-American statements. The 
Department of Defense concluded that "their captors 
could obtain a statement from any POW from whom 
they wanted one [and] all POWs made statements in 
one form or another." 5 

Before 1971, there had been three separate groups 
of Marine prisoners in Southeast Asia* In North Viet- 

*locations where Marines were held and the nicknames given 
them by prisoners, were as follows (those with an asterisk were used 
during 1972-1973): Cambodia and border area; Tam Ky Complex 
(Camps 1, 11,1 II), SVN; Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton-Camp Unity). NVN*; 
Cu Loc (Zoo), NVN*; Xom Ap Lo (Briar Patch), NVN; Thermal 
Power Plant (Dirty Bird), NVN; Son lay (Camp Hope), NVN; 
Citadel (Plantation), NVN*; Dan Hoi (Camp Faith), NVN; Bang 
Liet (Skid Row), NVN; Luong Lang (Dog Patch), NVN*; Noi Coc 
(Rock Pile), NVN*; Duong Ke (Farnsworth). NVN; Ba Cao (Bao 
Cao), NVN. 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
Interior of a prison cell in North Vietnam, late in the war. Bedding and possessions were 
stowed in a prescribed manner in otherwise barren surroundings. Unannounced harass- 
ment searches and confiscations were conducted with frequency by the Communist guards. 

This is a Defense Department mock-up in South Vietnam of a "tiger cage," used during 
the war to illustrate conditions of temporary confinement including leg-iron shackles. 

Photo courtesy of LCdr Francis C. Brown, USN 




Loung Lang* jj 




North Vietnam 

Vinh Ninh * 
Son Tay 
Xom Ap Lo # 
Dong Hoi 

Duong Ke*» Bang Liet 





• Camp Locations 

* Held prisoners from South Vietnam 
and Laos s '"--v. 


j \ 

^ Thailand \. 

Prisoner of War Camps 
in North Vietnam 




no retrieving a man once he despaired."* 7 Only 12 of 
these allied prisoners reached North Vietnam in 1971, 
where they were known as "The Dirty Dozen" by the 
other Americans already held in the North. 

According to First Lieutenant Bruce R. Archer of 
HMM-165, the prisoners were forced to maintain a six- 
day week consisting of identical morning and even- 

*Ranks used in text are as of time of capture. 

ing schedules. A bell woke them up at the break of 
dawn, when "we were then required to fold up our 
gear neatly. The prisoners were taken out of their cells 
one at a time to dump their toilet buckets, brush their 
teeth, and were then locked up again." Meals were a 
big event of the day, if lacking in quality and quantity. 

At times, food consisted of two daily meals, one 
largely of rice and squash soup, the other of pork fat. 



Archer continued, "In the South we were eating chick- 
en, some kind of vegetable soup and rice. In North 
Vietnam, after we settled into our camp site, they start- 
ed feeding us bread. We were getting a bowl of soup 
and a hard roll twice a day, with plenty of water." 9 Cap- 
tain Paul J. Montague, also from HMM-165 and cap- 
tured with Archer, commented that the situation was 
actually worse. In the early years, "meat of any sort 
was only given to us in minute pieces, if any at all." 9 
Another prisoner wrote that in South Vietnam he was 
fed "manioc, bamboo, and salt water and so was the 
camp commander." 10 The diet was so lacking in basic 
vitamins and protein that survival was a wonder. Cor- 
poral Anzaldua remembered that the "only protein we 
had consisted of an occasional rat, lizard, or snake we 
could catch with our hands." 11 Common to all 
prisoners at release was a weight loss of 45 to 60 

An overall death rate of 15 percent occurred, with 
those surviving being healthier than expected when 
examined upon release. 12 Medical care by the North 
Vietnamese was limited. Marines suffered from mal- 

nutrition, malaria, dysentery, beri-beri, open sores, 
rashes, typhoid, dental problems, ejection injuries, 
and psychological stress. 13 All suffered from nutritional 
deficiencies, torture, filthy living conditions, and soli- 
tary confinement. 

The American raid on the empty prison camp at 
Son Tay marked the start of major changes in how the 
North Vietnamese treated their prisoners. The raid 
demonstrated that the Americans could enter North 
Vietnam at will and were determined to get their 
countrymen back. As a result of this and other con- 
siderations, the Communists improved conditions, 
diet, and treatment. Most of the dispersed and iso- 
lated prisoners were eventually confined at the Hoa 
Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) complex. Men were brought 
together who had not seen another American in years; 
they now lived 30 to 50 men confined to a room. 

When Captains Orson G. Swindle III of Marine 
Wing Headquarters Group and Lawrence V. Friese of 
Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 12 arrived following a 
suffocating ride in a refrigerator truck, they found 
scrawled on a cell door "Marine Corps Barracks Hanoi." 

Meals in the north -were lacking in basic vitamins and protein, but most were at least 
routinely issued. In the south, this depended entirely upon what the local Communists 
had available for food themselves. If they did not eat, the prisoners also starved. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



With their concentration thus focused at one place, 
the prisoners were able to organize and resist to a 
greater degree. The prisoners needed psychologically 
to exhibit group solidarity and to interact with each 
other to overcome the guilt feelings caused by their 
inevitable breakdowns under torture. Based on the 
main points of the Code of Conduct, the system that 
evolved stressed: (l)Do not condemn, deny, or say any- 
thing detrimental about the United States ot its al- 
lies ot their cause; (2) Do not give aid or comfort to 
the enemy; and (3) Do not accept special favors, in- 
cluding parole. 14 

The object was to continue the war against the Viet- 
namese Communists by denying them the ability to 
use the prisoners as hostages or for propaganda pur- 
poses. Within the limitations of confinement, the 
prisoners had evolved over the years from helpless 
hostages at the mercy of their captors to organized 
combatants in a war of wills. Lieutenant Colonel 
Harlan P. Chapman, of MAG-13, noted that this was 
of a "joint service nature" and thete was a senior rank- 
ing officer "for each room, each building, and for the 
camp. Date of rank was important but it did not mat- 
ter what branch of service." 15 For example, Major John 
H. Dunn, of MAG-11, established these policies while 
senior officer at Son Tay under the acronym of Blades: 
"Bitch constantly about necessities, /uxuries bitch 
about occasionally, absurdities debunk, </iscourage 
propaganda, everyone participates, /elect what is to 
be bitched about individually." 18 Techniques used to 
resist included the discouragement of visits by family 
members, the refusal to view live entertainment, the 
resistance to Vietnamese-sponsored holidays, the 
celebration of American holidays, the stopping of 
recreation that was viewed by Vietnamese-sponsored 
delegations, and the refusal to comment during in- 
terrogation on any subject except personal needs.* 17 

As Linebacker air attacks on the North increased in 
May 1972, the NVA moved more than 200 prisoners to 
Luong Lang near the Chinese border. At the same 
time, the North Vietnamese used groups of prisoners 
to denounce the resumption of air bombardment with 
statements and broadcasts, this included the "Peace 

*Prisoner resistance was all that could be accomplished under 
the circumstances, but was isolated and individual in nature until 
late in the war. LtCol Swindle recalled that the standards of con- 
duct for Marines in the North were set by Chapman, Dunn, and 
Frederick. (Swindle comments) VAdmJames B. Srockdale, the senior 
naval service officer held in captivity, takes exception to the con- 
cept of a "4th Allied POW Wing," which he regarded as a publici- 
ty device after the fact. (Stockdale comments) 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 
American prisoners were put on display for visiting 
delegations, for example when American actress Jane 
Fonda arrived in Hanoi on 8 July 1972. Along with 
meeting the prisoners, touring bombed areas, and 
making radio broadcasts, Fonda visited with NVA an- 
tiaircraft crews where this photograph was taken. 

Committee" ot "Outer Seven" group of prisoners.** 
They were called this by other prisoners for their 
separate treatment by, and cooperation with, the Com- 
munists. Associated with them were two officers, 
VMFA-323's Lieutenant Colonel Edison W. Miller and 
Navy Captain Walter E. Wilber. 16 Miller later wrote, 
"I most certainly did, during the last thtee years of my 
confinement, express my views on the Vietnam War. 
It has not changed. The prosecution of the Vietnam 
War has to be one of the majot mistakes of our coun- 
tty . . . " I9 

Renewed air action also resulted in new prisoners 
arriving. On 11 June 1972, Captain William K. An- 
gus of VMA(AW)-224 was captured when his A-6 was 
hit by ground fire during a bombing run. North Viet- 
namese subjected him to brutal interrogation, with 
the same results as with earlier prisoners: despair and 
guilt for going beyond the "big four"*** under tor- 

**These were Sp4 Michael P. Branch, USA; SSgt Robert P. 
Chenoweth, USA; SSgt James A. Daly, Jr., USA; Pvc Frederick L. 
Elbert, Jr.. USMC; Sgt Able L. Kavanaugh. USMC; SSgt King D. 
Rayfoid, Jr., USA; SSgt Alfonso R. Riate, USMC; and SSgt John 
A. Young, USA. 

***Name, rank, serial number, and date of birth being the only 
four questions a prisoner was required to answer for his captors. 



ture 30 But to the men who had remained in the north 
for so long, it seemed these newcomers brought atti- 
tudes that threatened those held by earlier prisoners* 
Major Leo Thorsness, USAF, felt that these men had 
been on college campuses in the 1960s, when he had 
been taken prisoner, and they "were not hard-core 
resisters." They asked him, "Why in the world should 
we be tortured to say things that everybody in the 
states is already saying?" 21 

This last year of captivity for the prisoners also saw 
tragic hardships. During July 1972, the Luong Lang 
camp suffered a typhoid epidemic due to the crowd- 
ed and unsanitary conditions. One of those who died 
was Chief Warrant Officer John W. Frederick, Jr., of 
MAG-11, who had survived seven years of confinement. 

That same month, a group of prisoners met with 
actress Jane Fonda and later in August with former 
U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, meetings that 
were staged for newsmen.** One prisoner who met 
with them at that time explained, "I had no idea who 
she was, but every young officer in the camp (The Zoo) 
I was in at the time, viewed her as a sex symbol and 
wanted to see her." 33 This, and other incidents, 
brought accusations of American prisoners cooperat- 
ing with the Communists, accusations a court of law 
never resolved. 33 

One Marine prisoner concluded after his release that 
not everyone resisted to the best of his abilities. Cor- 
poral Jose J. Anzaldua felt that some prisoners put 
together peace statements for the enemy in exchange 
for better treatment or a few paltry privileges, a little 
more food or a few cigarettes. "I tried to think of them 
simply as 'weak sisters' but ultimately I hated them — 
and I hate them still. Beyond a certain point no man's 
fear or suffering was greater than another's. We all had 
the same choices." 34 

*VAdm Stockdale commented that the years of "heavy" torture 
were prior to 31 March 1968. After that, he felt that it was con- 
tinued by the North Vietnamese against those against whom they 
stiil had grudges. A greater threat was from the early-ielease offers. 
By 1 December 1971, "all torture was a thing of the past." (Stock- 
dale comments) 

**On 13 July 1972, a group of 16 American prisoners made stat- 
ments denouncing the war. Jane Fonda also made broadcasts on 
Radio Hanoi that were heard by American forces at the time, in- 
cluding Marine units. This led an unknown Marine with VMFA-333 
to quip: "Guess the end-of-the-cruise date and win a date with Jane." 
On 9 August 1972, Clark broadcast over Radio Hanoi that there 
"is no excuse for bombing North Vietnam," but appealed for the 
release of prisoners of war. At the time, he was a member of the 
Stockholm-based International Commission of Inquiry on war crimes 
in Indochina. (Vietnam Comment File) 

Egress Recap and Other Contingencies 
Active prisoner-recovery operations, including con- 
tingencies for prisoners in North Vietnam continued 
through the end of the war and beyond. The Deputy 
Director for Operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff be- 
gan a special operations project that envisioned the 
recovery of American prisoners from Hanoi. Lieutenant 
General Hugh J. Elwood, the Deputy Chief of Staff 
for Plans and Programs at HQMC, assigned Colonel 
William J. Davis as the Marine Corps action officer 
and representative. Project planners proposed opera- 
tions using U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps forces 
to rescue prisoners from the enemy capital. These con- 
cepts remained in the planning stage because of the 
success of military operations in South Vietnam and 
negotiations in Paris. 25 

In 1972, Major William B. Clark was the Head- 
quarters Marine Corps action officer concerned with 
monitoring status of captured Marines when a special 
Department of Defense prisoner task force formed. In 
August 1972, he attended the DOD/CinCPac plan- 
ning conference on recovery contingencies. He report- 
ed back to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-l, that a 
great deal of meaningful and productive action had 
taken place since the previous World Wide Confer- 
ence on Prisoners of War. In his opinion, there were 
"processing sites ready and waiting with every conceiv- 
able problem examined," medical, personnel, and per- 
sonal files were on station and up to date, next of kin 
telephone procedures were established, security 
precautions taken, public affairs press guidance 
promulgated, and casualty transportation to the Unit- 
ed States laid on. 36 

The task force on the prisoners-of-war and missing- 
in-action was headed by Dr. Roger E. Shields from the 
office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Inter- 
national Security Affairs. During Operation 
Homecoming he dealt directly with CinCPac and the 
Services. These efforts were coordinated under a Pa- 
cific Command plan known as Egress Recap, later re- 
named Operation Homecoming. 37 This called for a 
three-phase operation and delegated responsibility 
among the Services. Phase one and phase two were 
controlled by the Homecoming Operations Center at 
Pacific Command's headquarters in Hawaii. Phase one 
was the recovery of the prisoners by Thirteenth Air 
Force from the Communists. Phase two was their 
processing at an intermediate facility, the Joint 
Homecoming Reception Center (JHRC) at Clark Air 
Force Base, Philippines. Phase three was the return of 
these Americans to the United States, as the respon- 



Homecoming Reception Sequence 

Returnees Requiring 
Interim Treatment 

Cleared for 

Continuous Treatment 
Beyond Seven Days 

Further Processing 
or Evacuation as 
Prescribed by 
Senior Medical Officer 


Central Processing Center 

To Hospital 

Initial Medical Evaluation 

Call Home 

Returnees Requiring 
Minor or No Treatment 

Administration Processing 

• Escort Assignment 

• Briefings 

• Uniform Measurement 

• Uniform Pay 

• Legal Counseling 

• Chaplain Services 

• Current Events Update 

To Medevac Aircraft 

Aeromedical Evacuation 

Returnees Requiring 
Intensive Care 
or Quarantine 

Further Processing 
or Evacuation as 
Presented by 
Senior Medical Officer 

Adapted from Department of Defense Material 



sibility of the individual services. 28 In addition, the 
U.S. delegation to the Four Party Joint Military Com- 
mission established by the ceasefire agreement had a 
two-man POW liaison division provided by MACV. 29 

More than 2,880 American government and mili- 
tary personnel were involved with the first two phases 
of Homecoming, which directly involved 62 Marines. 
The III MAF Marines worked within the organizational 
framework of the Joint Homecoming Reception Center 
at Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, to include the 
command post, base hospital, Joint Debriefing and 
Casualty Reporting Center, Joint Reception and Sup- 
port Center, Joint Information Bureau, and the Quick 
Reaction Team/Reception Support Team. Military Air- 
lift Command and the Pacific Air Force provided air- 
craft support. Air Force Lieutenant General William 
G. Moore described the command post as "the hub 
of all activity" for the command element, the Service 
deputy site commanders and State Department team 
chief, and representatives of key support agencies. 30 

Marine Corps participation in Operation 
Homecoming ranged from the prisoners themselves 
to Marine action officers in Washington, D.C. Major 
General Michael P. Ryan, then Commanding Gener- 
al, III MAF, assigned Colonel John W. Clayborne as 
his representative with the Joint Homecoming Recep- 
tion Center at Clark. There he was a service deputy 
JHRC commander, under General Moore. Colonel 
Clayborne headed the Marine contingent of 32 officers 
and 28 enlisted men who comprised the Marine 
Processing Team at Clark and the escort team on board 
the Military Airlift Command aircraft. The III MAF 
team began operations on 13 December 1972 when 
Major John J. Burton reported to Clark as the III MAF 
liaison officer, assisted by Staff Sergeant Thomas W. 
Bohnenkamp, an administrative chief, and Master Ser- 
geant Fred A. Norvell, the Camp Butler uniform cus- 
todian. Planning and briefings continued with the Air 
Force, as well as with Brigadier General Paul G. Gra- 
ham's 9th MAB and 31st MAU for Homecoming 
Afloat if it was necessary to transport the returnees 
by sea rather than by air. 31 

On 26 December 1972, the prisoners at The Citadel 
moved to Hoa Lo Prison. Indication of a prisoner ex- 
change came to the Americans in North Vietnam 
when lists of prisoners by the date of capture were ar- 
ranged to establish the order in which prisoners were 
released. In January 1973, the "Dirty Dozen" prisoners 
of the MR 1 group were also moved to Hoa Lo and 
joined the other Hanoi prisoners for release. For Cor- 

poral Anzaldua the word of the pending relief came 
in formation with the other prisoners in the main yard 
of the prison. The camp commander, speaking 
through an interpreter, told them "You will be released 
in 30 days." There was no visible response from the 
assembled prisoners: "No one believed him, for all we 
knew it was a trick," stated Anzaldua, "We dared not 
hope. We were beyond hope." 32 

When the ceasefire agreement was imminent, the 
JCS Chairman, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, notified 
the Pacific Command that during "the next 60 days 
the most important single event will be the return of 
our prisoners of war." 33 The recovery and accountability 
of Americans held by the Communists in Southeast 
Asia had become a national objective and a specific 
goal of negotiation with the North Vietnamese. At this 
point the prisoners were the only leverage the Com- 
munists could exert, and President Nixon personally 
followed the daily progress of the prisoner release and 
final troop withdrawals. 34 

The prisoner release was dependent upon the 
removal of U.S. naval mines from North Vietnamese 
waterways, the withdrawal of remaining U.S. forces 
from South Vietnam, and the exchange of some 5,000 
South Vietnamese and 26,508 Communist prisoners. 35 
Under the terms of the Vietnam Agreement, the in- 
ternationally supervised ceasefire went into effect 
throughout South and North Vietnam at 0800 Sai- 
gon time, 28 January 1973- Within 60 days all Ameri- 
can prisoners and remaining military forces would 
leave Vietnam, and 23,335 Americans, 35,396 
Koreans, and 113 other allies were to withdraw. 38 It 
also began the long-awaited recovery of American 
prisoners from Hanoi. Homecoming was no longer a 
plan, it was operational. 

Operation Homecoming 

In order to support around-the-clock processing of 
men in transition from Communist to American con- 
trol, a facility was established and manned by the Serv- 
ices to provide medical, financial, psychological, and 
humanitarian support. On 28 January 1973, these 
reception stations were manned at the announcement 
of the names of the Americans to be released. Included 
were the names of 26 Marine returnees, and eight 
others who had died in captivity. When theJHRC was 
activated, it was believed that the prisoners would be 
released in roughly equal groups at 15 -day intervals. 

Families were notified, records were audited, and 
current promotions, awards, and uniforms were on 
hand to be issued upon the prisoners' arrival at Clark 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A900055 
Upon release, prisoners were issued civilian clothing 
and toilet articles and driven to Hanoi's GiaLam Air- 
port for transfer to awaiting American reception teams. 
In a study in contrasts, an American prisoner pans the 
camera over the shoulder of a North Vietnamese. 

Air Force Base. Representatives from the various Serv- 
ices were assigned to each pickup aircraft; however, 
they were not escorts for specific returnees. Marine es- 
corts were assigned to each Marine returnee to accom- 
pany him to the JHRC and then to the United States. 37 
The processing at the JHRC was designed to allow a 
smooth transition of the returnees back into the Ma- 
rine Corps. Information was provided to bring the Ma- 
rines up to date on the events of the last few years, 
and to allow them to make contact with their families. 

As February 1973 began, prisoners in Hanoi began 
the transfer to their final holding facility, known as 
"Showplace" because the Vietnamese made efforts to 
improve the condition and appearance of prisoners pri- 
or to release. Operation Homecoming had started for 
them at last. One of the prisoner leadership's last in- 
structions was the "Go Home Guidance." These 
provided specifics on "dress, press, debrief, violators." 
The prisoners used military formations to display pride 
and dignity. Any emotionalism or arrogance was kept 
in check. Priority for release were the sick or wound- 
ed, enlisted men, civilians, and officers in order of cap- 
ture. But, this was ultimately controlled by the 
Communists. An experience that began for a diverse 
group of individuals ended as a unifying event. 38 

On 12 February 1973, the first phase began with 

the release of 116 prisoners at Gia Lam Airfield in 
North Vietnam and 19 prisoners in South Vietnam 
who left from Saigon. These first groups included 
three Marines from the north and Captain James P. 
Walsh from the south. Other prisoners were released 
from the same locations and from the British Crown 
Colony of Hong Kong. In accordance with the provi- 
sions of the Agreement and Protocol, transactions were 
observed by teams from the Four Party Joint Military 
Commission and the International Commission of 
Control and Supervision. 

As the first prisoners were transferred from their 
Vietnamese bus, their way to the aircraft was blocked 
by newsmen. However Air Force plane crews pushed 
the newsmen aside and escorted the men to the wait- 
ing C-141. Colonel James R. Dennet, USAF, who head- 
ed the 18-man reception support team, reported, "One 
of the POWs told me that this was the high point of 
the whole operation." 39 Dennet was impressed with 
the discipline displayed as the former prisoners got off 
the bus at Hanoi: "The senior man took charge and 
marched them to the turnover point. Some were limp- 
ing, but there was full control." The releases that fol- 
lowed were based upon agreements reached in Paris 
and on the spot in North Vietnam. Delays in negoti- 
ations at exchange sites made subsequent releases ir- 
regular. In all, 20 MAC flights by C-l4ls and C-9s were 
used to bring the men to the Philippines. When the 
last flights arrived, 591 Americans and nine foreign 
nationals had been repatriated* 

After arriving in the Philippines, the former prison- 
ers began the next phase of Homecoming. Processing 
began with an initial medical examination. The 
returned Marines were then debriefed. The purpose 
of this was to determine the status of the remaining 
prisoners and to elicit information on missing persons 
who may have been encountered in captivity.' 10 Cap- 
tain William C. Howey led the five-man debrief team 
and recalled that the actual debriefs began on 13 
February 1973 with Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dunn 
and Lieutenant Colonel Harlan P. Chapman.** Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Edison W. Miller "was not debriefed 
by direction of FMFPac."'" Returnees then met their 
escorts, received personal information briefings on 
their home situations, met with a chaplain (if desired), 

*Marines were released on 12 February 1973 and on 5, 14, 16, 
27, and 28 March. 

**LtCol Howey commented that it took an estimated 45 man- 
hours to process the Dunn and Chapman debriefs to collate, cross- 
check, and verify names mentioned. Other prisoners were specifi- 
cally designated to serve as "name memory banks" for the prisoners. 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A900040 
Prisoners lined up for release on 27 March 1973 at the airport. Marines pictured among the 
27 returnees freed that day were Sgt Jose J. Anzaldua, fourth from the left, and Sgt Dennis 
A. Tellier, second from the right. The bus was camouflaged as a defense against air attack. 

The returnees maintained their composure until it was clear that they were again safe 
under American control. No one was silent as this Air Force C-141 Starlifter left the run- 
way at Hanoi. The photographer, TSgt Robert N. Denham, USAF, observed that "You 
could hear the shouts and cheers all over the aircraft" on this 28 March 1973 flight. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A9000163 




AIR F CK\ : 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A900042 
Arrival at Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, was at all hours of the day or night. Despite 
this, there were military and civilian well-wishers on hand to greet the returnees, in this 
case on a Military Airlift Command C-141 medical evacuation aircraft arriving from Hanoi. 

and called their families. Changes to initial hospital 
assignments were made at this time. After that, a post 
exchange call was made for necessities and measure- 
ment for uniforms in which to return home. 42 

The men were in a euphoric state that lasted 
throughout their stay at Clark. The returning Ameri- 
cans "were greeted by large crowds of well-wishers at 
the flight line and along the ambulance bus routes 
to the hospital." 43 These crowds of dependents and 
Service personnel from Clark were the returning 
prisoners' first indication that their experience was ap- 
preciated by their fellow citizens. The returning Ma- 
rines adjusted promptly to earing a normal American 
diet. To Colonel Clayborne, surprisingly, "though sub- 
jected to the most primitive living conditions and 
cruelties, together with long years of imprisonment, 
[they] did not appear psychologically or mentally af- 
fected in most cases." 44 They were especially interest- 
ed in the details of their capture and information 
about their units following their capture. Colonel 
Clayborne credited a strong prisoner unity with main- 
taining a sense of military discipline and providing 
the men a sense of purpose. Standing out in his 
recollections the rapport between the Marine 
returnees and their escorts. 45 

Colonel Dennet had initial concerns for demonstra- 
tions against the North Vietnamese by the returning 

prisoners. On 16 March 1973, Dennet was prepared 
for possible demonstrations against the United States 
from a group of 32 prisoners in Hanoi, including seven 
Marines, three of whom were charged with miscon- 
duct after their return 46 His concern for this particu- 
lar release was due primarily to the personalities 
among the returnees themselves, some "individuals 
in this group had been identified as having anti-war 
and most particularly anri-U.S. military sentiments." 
Captain Howey had received derogatory information 
about some of these returnees during his debriefing 
sessions and passed this information on to Colonel 
Clayborne, who informed Fleet Marine Force Pacific 
and Headquarters Marine Corps. 47 

The returnees were cleared for "medical evacuation" 
to the United States as soon as they were ready to go, 
an average of 68 hours of processing time. Thirty-six 
MAC C-141 flights were made to take all the men to 
Hawaii. The first Marine to arrive was Lieutenant 
Colonel Chapman, to be welcomed by the Command- 
ing General of FMF Pacific, General Louis H. Wilson, 
Jr. Chapman was the Marine held the longest by the 
enemy, from his capture on 5 November 1965. General 
Wilson shook his hand and said, "Welcome back to 
the Marine Corps." Chapman replied, "Thank you, 
General, but I never left." 48 Others followed and this 
"process" continued until the arrival of Captain Wil- 
liam K. Angus on 28 March 1973, the last Marine 



prisoner out of North Vietnam. As Captain Angus 
boarded the aircraft that returned him to the United 
States he took the "salute of a formation of Marines 
who were enroute to Nam Phong." 49 

The third phase of Operation Homecoming began 
after notification of a Marine's return was sent to his 
family. The returnee was then assigned to one of seven 
naval hospitals* The returning Marines were given 
more intensive medical care and counseling. They were 
then debriefed further and given time to spend with 
families and friends to catch up on lost years. This was 
controlled by Headquarters Marine Corps, with a pro- 
gram called Operation Homecoming Marine. Head- 
quarters formed a group under Brigadier General 
Edward A. Parnell for the Manpower Division. As in 
the preoperation planning, these action officers at 
Headquarters supervised the process with the as- 
sistance of the respective hospitals and with local Ma- 
rine representatives.** 50 They also had to assist the 
survivors of those Marines who were not coming home. 
Welcome Home Marine 

Chief Warrant Officer William E. Thomas, Jr., ar- 
rived at Naval Air Station, Miramar, California, at 1815 
on 30 March 1973- The 36-year-old native of Pennsyl- 
vania had been serving as an air observer with Sub Unit 
One, 1st ANGLICO, when he was shot down near the 
Demilitarized Zone in 1972. At the time, he had been 
"controlling naval gunfire on enemy positions along 
Route 555" from an Air Force OV-10. He was escorted 
to the United States by Major John H. Messick, to 
Camp Pendleton, California. Previously Warrant 
Officer Thomas had met his wife and two children in 
Hawaii during a brief stopover at Hickam Air Force 
Base. Thomas recalled, "I arrived with Sgt Anzaldua. 
We (Joe and I) arrived late due to aircraft problems." 
A Marine Corps sedan and reception party drove them 
to the Camp Pendleton naval hospital where they were 
greeted by the base commander, Major General Her- 
man Poggemeyer, Jr.; Major General John N. 
McLaughlin, Commanding General, 4th Marine Di- 
vision, himself a former POW from the Korean War; 
and the hospital commander. Assigned to Operation 

*These were U.S. Naval Hospitals in Oakland, California; Camp 
Pendleton, California; Great Lakes, Illinois; St. Albans, New York; 
Bethesda, Maryland; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania. USNHsin San Diego, California, and Jackson- 
ville, Florida, also participated. 

""Units involved were Marine Corps Base (MCB), Camp Pendle- 
ton, California; Marine Barracks, Great Lakes, Illinois; Marine Bar- 
racks, Brooklyn, New York; Marine Barracks, Jacksonville, Florida; 
Marine Barracks, Treasure Island, California; and MCB Camp 
Lejeune, North Carolina. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A26897 
The first Marine to return to American soil was LtCol 
Harlan P. Chapman, foreground, after more than 
seven years in captivity. He was greeted on his arrival 
at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, by LtGen Louis H. 
Wilson, Jr., commanding FMF Pacific. The flight ar- 
rived with 20 returnees from all three Armed Services. 

Homecoming Ward 22A, Warrant Officer Thomas was 
once again reunited with his family. 

In the days that followed, Chief Warrant Officer 
Joseph A. Canonico and Sergeant William C. Wester- 
lund of the 1st Counterintelligence Team conducted 
detailed debriefings, in conjunction with medical and 
dental treatment. Decorations and awards were initiat- 
ed or completed during this period, as well as adminis- 
trative matters relating to pay and legal assistance. 
Family visits and liberty were authorized consistent 
with medical, administrative, and debriefing sched- 
ules. On 16 April 1973, Chief Warrant Officer Tho- 
mas conducted a press conference and began a 90-day 
convalescent leave. 51 

With variations in detail this same sequence was fol- 
lowed by the 25 other Marines who had returned dur- 
ing Homecoming. An important element of this 
program was the public relations exploitation of the 
returned Marines which allowed them to have press 
conferences, make public speaking engagements, and 
hold interviews designed to capitalize on the massive 
public response to their return. The Marines were wel- 
comed home at the national level by the Comman- 
dant General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., and by President 
Nixon with a White House reception. 52 



Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A900028 
High among priorities for returnees was complete medical examinations, in this case, for 
Capt James P. Walsh, the last Marine captured during the war. He is undergoing a physi- 
cal at the St. Albans Naval Hospital, New York, conducted by Capt Robert Bishop, USN. 

"Welcome home, Marine]" heard from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. At Camp 
Pendleton, California, Gen Robert E. Cushman, Jr., promotes CW03 William £ Tho- 
mas, Jr., in front of other returnees. In most cases, promotions waited several years to 
be presented, making some Marines several ranks senior to what they were when captured. 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A356477 



White House Photograph E084822A 
The final phase of Operation Homecoming came at the White House with a reception 
by the Commander-in-Chief, President Richard M. Nixon. He is shown here addressing 
the returnees, backed by the Marine Band and its drum major on 24 May 1973- 

Shortly after the prisoners were returned. General 
Cushman received a letter from Douglas K. Ramsey 
that would focus his personal attention on a Marine 
Corps officer, a prisoner who had been dead for six 
years in Vietnam. Ramsey, a civilian language officer, 
had been held a prisoner by the Communists from 
1966 until his release during Operation Homecom- 
ing in 1973. His letter told the story of Captain Donald 
G. Cook, USMC. 53 Captain Cook went to Vietnam as 
an observer from Communications Company, Head- 
quarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division. He was as- 
signed to the 4th Battalion of the Vietnamese Marines. 
On 31 December 1964 he was wounded and captured 
during Fighting near Binh Gia, Phuoc Thy Province, 
in III Corps. 54 Cook was held prisoner by the Viet Cong 
until his death. The 33-year-old native of New York 
and father of four set an example of courage and con- 
duct in the face of the enemy. 

Held in various camps in South Vietnam near the 
Cambodian border, Cook reportedly assumed a rigid 
adherence to the Code of Conduct that won him the 
respect of his fellow prisoners and his Communist cap- 
tors. Observed a fellow prisoner, after a 14-day forced 
march to a new camp, Captain Cook's determination 

and fortitude "was commended by the VC camp com- 
mander . . . like a physicist being praised by Ein- 
stein." 55 Although seriously ill, Cook refused to allow 
other prisoners to carry him or his pack. He set the 
example for others by assuming leadership, nursing 
the sick, sharing his rations, organizing the prisoners, 
attempting to escape, and resisting the Vietnamese 
at every turn. The strain of this effort eventually cost 
him his life. Fellow prisoners believed "that Cook could 
have negotiated his own early release, had he been 
willing to pay the price of a signed statement or tape" 
against the United States' policy in Vietnam. Captain 
Cook's 1967 death from malaria was announced to 
other prisoners as his having "gone to a camp rather 
far from here." The North Vietnamese finally notified 
the American government of Captain Cook's death in 
1973 during Operation Homecoming* 

The return of Marine prisoners also brought discipli- 
nary action for some. Rear Admiral James B. Stock- 
dale, the senior naval officer in captivity, was met the 
day after his arrival at Clark Air Force Base by CinC- 

*He was declared legally dead by the Department of Defense on 
26 fcbruary 1980. On 16 May 1980 Colonel Donald G. Cook's widow 
received his Med;tl of Honor from Secretary of the Navy Edward 



Pac's Rear Admiral Earl P. ''rates. A telephone call made 
in Stockdale's name to the Chief of Naval Personnel 
in Washington, D.C., concerning Navy Captain Walter 
E. Wilber and Marine Lieutenant Colonel Edison W. 
Miller, demanded that they be moved for their own 
safety as there "are released ex-prisoners who don't 
want to be in the same hospital with them." 56 

The telephone call appeared to have been motivated 
by the fact of Miller and Wilber being on the first 
flight out of Hanoi, which Stockdale felt "may not 
have been either Miller's idea, or the North Viet- 
namese's." Colonel Clayborne's opinion was that Wil- 
ber and Miller were on the initial plane because of 
North Vietnamese control and manipulation of the 
process. Reasons proposed for this were for the Com- 
munists to "get some favorable media exposure" or as 
"a gesture of contempt" to continue to exploit division 
among the returnees. 57 In regards to his release date, 
though he was one of the more seriously injured 
returnees, Miller said he had declined early repatria- 
tion, but was told with the others by the North Viet- 
namese that "we would all leave the country when told 
to." 56 At this point, CinCPac and Washington's con- 
cern was to move Miller and Wilber out as soon as pos- 
The first Marine captured during the war, Col Donald 
G. Cook, never returned. His experience remained un- 
told until Operation Homecoming brought back fel- 
low prisoners whose recounting gained him the Medal 
of Honor. He is pictured as a captain, the rank he held 
at the time of his capture in 1964 in South Vietnam. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 

sible. Stockdale observed that there "are a lot of loose 
ends here . . . " 5B 

In June 1973, Admiral Stockdale brought charges 
against these same two officers, in accordance with the 
Secretary of Defense's policy that charges against 
returnees would have to be brought by other former 
prisoners. They were charged with conspiracy to solicit 
mutiny, solicitation of mutiny, mutiny, violation of 
orders, communications with the enemy, and urging 
others to cooperate with the enemy. 80 Stockdale 
recalled these charges had been drafted by the Judge 
Advocate General of the Navy, based in part on some 
50 depositions collected by the Naval Investigative 
Service from returnees. 61 Miller stated that "my crit- 
ics have preferred as much anonymity and distance as 
possible" and that Admiral Stockdale "has never 
spoken with me or met me." 92 

Air Ibrce Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Guy 
brought charges of misconduct against eight enlisted 
men under him as the senior ranking officer at The 
Citadel. Three Marines and five soldiers were accused. 
The Marines were Staff Sergeant Alfonso R. Riate, Ser- 
geant Able L. Kavanaugh, and Private Frederick!. El- 
bert, Jr. All were accused of making propaganda 
statements, cooperating with the enemy, disobedience 
of orders, attempting to persuade others to disobey 
orders, and wrongfully communicating with the ene- 
my about other prisoners.* 63 Sergeant Kavanaugh 
committed suicide soon after the charges were pub- 

A divergence of opinion existed among the 
prisoners, the Pentagon, the Services, and the White 
House on how this situation should have been han- 
dled * Secretary of the Navy John Warner ordered the 
Navy Judge Advocate General to conduct an investi- 
gation and Warner himself interviewed some 19 former 
prisoners and reached two separate determinations. On 
3 July 1973, Secretary Warner dismissed the charges 
against the enlisted Marines; on 27 September 1973, 
he dismissed those against the officers. All of them 
received secretarial letters of censure.** In October 
1973, Secretary Warner dropped additional charges 
against the enlisted Marines following further inves- 
tigation and consideration of the legal and policy is- 

*The legal and command background on these charges is covered 
extensively in LtCol Gary D. Solis, Marines and Military Law in Viet- 
nam: Trial by Fire (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Divi- 
son, U.S. Marine Corps, 1989), pp. 218-221. 

*'LtCol Miller's censure stared in part, he "placed personal com- 
fort and welfare above that of , . , fellow prisoners of war." (BGen 
Walter J. Donovan memo to CMC dtd 29May85 [Vietnam Com- 
ment File]) 



sues involved. Secretary Warner directed that no 
further action be taken relating to accusations of mis- 
conduct while a prisoner. When the Secretary of the 
Navy announced his decision he concluded that the 
convening of a pretrial investigation under Article 32 
of the Uniform Code of Military Justice was warrant- 
ed by the evidence, but felt that "further proceedings, 
with their attendant publicity, would subject many 
former prisoners of war and their families ... to ad- 
ditional serious disruption and hardship dispropor- 
tionate to any national interest which could 
conceivably be served." 64 In a similar decision, the 
Secretary of the Army also dismissed the charges 
against the soldiers involved. 

A short time later, the Department of Defense con- 
vened a committee to review the Code of Conduct and 
it considered the handling of the investigations into 
misconduct. It concluded that "the investigations were 
minimal, and the rationale supporting dismissal was 
very weak." 65 While recognizing the "emotional cli- 
mate" that was disinclined to prosecute any returnees 
and the Defense Department policy that there would 
be no prosecution based solely on propaganda state- 
ments, the committee was struck by the depth of bit- 
terness expressed by the returnees interviewed. The 
consensus of returnees was that those who had violat- 
ed the Uniform Code of Military Justice had not been 
required to account for their actions: "they were put 
to no test of justice; and their apparent immunity 
would serve to undermine command authority in any 
future [prisoner-of-war] organizations." 00 

The Pacific Command's Homecoming organization 
continued through 2 October 1973, when the Assistant 
Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs 
believed that there would be no other releases. By 1 
December 1973, the last vestiges of Homecoming had 
faded. 97 Admiral Noel A. M. Gayler's CinCPac com- 
mand history quoted a Time magazine observation 
that the "exercise was worthy of a major offensive .... 
The U.S. military's planning for the operation had 
been meticulous and even loving, in an official way." 68 
Code of Conduct 

The wartime experience of the Marine prisoners was 
examined from debriefs conducted as part of Opera- 
tion Homecoming Marine. Areas examined included 
general treatment, interrogation, indoctrination, 
prisoner organization, prisoner communications, and 
effectiveness of training received prior to capture. An 
acronym, "Sere" stood for Survival, evasion, resistance, 
and escape. These four words summarized the ordeal 
of the Marines at the hands of the Communists in 

Southeast Asia. 69 Regardless of background and quality 
of training, all Marines had been indoctrinated in the 
Code of Conduct. This code was drafted after the 
Korean War, when there was a perceived need to 
delineate acceptable behavior in captivity. The degree 
of success or failure of this endeavor varied with each 
individual and his relative circumstances. Conduct in 
the enemy camp was influenced by two sets of stan- 
dards, those of international law and those of the 
American military. While survival was a goal in itself, 
the quality of that survival was measured against the 
criteria of resistance to the North Vietnamese. This 
goal had been set by the Code of Conduct and the 
service senior ranking officers in the Vietnamese 
camps. 70 

The Marine Corps had used the Code of Conduct 
for training and instruction intended to promote in 
Marines the positive attitude that they could oppose 
and defeat any enemy of their country, even if they 
were captured. In recruit training, individual combat 
training, and during predeployment training, Marines 
received instruction in the Geneva Convention, the 
Code of Conduct, and survival, evasion, resistance, and 
escape techniques. The emphasis on the Code of Con- 
duct and the Geneva Convention before and during 
the war in Vietnam had been oriented towards "big 
four only" statements — name, rank, serial number, 
and date of birth. This left nothing to fall back upon 
when a Marine was not treated as a prisoner of war 
by the Communists, but as a "war criminal." The Code 
of Conduct did provide a sound philosophy, but previ- 
ous training in it did not allow flexibility. Returning 
prisoners considered this preparation inadequate for 
what they experienced. "What does one do when un- 
able to stick to the big four?" was the most discussed 
question during Homecoming debriefings. 71 As one 
Marine stated, "I was mentally unprepared for intern- 
ment. I had guilt feelings of a traitorous nature be- 
cause of my conduct." 72 

As could be expected, the application of the code 
varied with individuals and military service. The stan- 
dards of the Code of Conduct were those that Marines 
typically carried with them into captivity in Vietnam. 
The experience they brought out generally reaffirmed 
the importance of the Code, with minor variation in 
wording. 73 Captain Montague wrote that it was a 
"beautiful code," but that the way it was taught aid- 
ed the enemy. When there is time, as in Vietnam, "all 
can [be] and were broken by our enemy." It is the sub- 
sequent guile that is exploited, until "we realized we 
had done our best, and had gone to the extreme" and 


Marine Corps Historical Collection 
Much later another Marine came back to a different 
reception. PFC Robert R. Garwood returned from cap- 
tivity in North Vietnam and is shown in March 1979 
leaving the hospital at Camp Butler, Okinawa, escort- 
ed by Maj Ralph S. Bates, in coat and tie at right. 

were then able to pick up the pieces and continue the 
fight. 7 " 

MIAs: The Joint Casualty Resolution Center 

The Paris Accords in 1973 called for signatories to 
report the location of missing persons as well as 
prisoners. The North Vietnamese for their pan claimed 
an estimated one million missing to be reconciled. 
More than a statistic, each missing U.S. Marine was a 
loss to loved ones, a loss to his unit, and an unresolved 
individual tragedy that did not diminish with the pass- 
ing of time and the fading of memory. The missing 
became an issue fot the same reasons that the prisoners 
became hostages during the war. The domestic pres- 
sure of families on elected representatives caused the 
government to mobilize its efforts to resolve the sta- 
tus of these men, which included 290 Marines in two 
categories at the end of the war: those considered miss- 
ing and possibly captured (believed to be 136 Marines 
in 1973) and those considered killed with their bod- 
ies not being recovered. After Operation Homecom- 


ing did not provide further insight into the status of 
the remaining missing, Secretary of the Navy Warner 
directed that "no action be taken to change the sta- 
tus of Vietnam MIA's" without his personal know- 
ledge. 75 This policy continued until procedures were 
agreed upon that allowed a judicious determination 
of a "final" status in each case. Since the 1973 cease- 
fire, the Department of Defense has maintained that 
the status review process and the accounting for miss- 
ing are two separate and distinct issues. 76 

When the MACV Special Operations Group-Joint 
Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC) was deactivated, its 
prisoner recovery functions were turned over to the 
Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC).* U.S. Army 
Brigadier General Robert C. Kingston's Thailand- 
based organization's mission was to resolve the status of 
2,441 Americans missing in action in Southeast Asia. 77 
The task force interviewed refugees, conducted 
searches of identified crash sites, and participated in 
the "technical" talks with the North Vietnamese. In 
conjunction with the JCRC, the U.S. Army Central 
Identification Laboratory provided support with the 
recovery and identification of remains. The Joint 
Casualty Resolution Center continued to resolve the 
status of missing Marines after the completion of 

One Marine who did not return during Homecom- 
ing was Private First Class Robert R. Garwood. Gar- 
wood's initial loss had been treated as a capture by 
the Communists, even after reports that he had chos- 
en to remain with them after being offered release in 
1967. The Marine Corps believed him to be collaborat- 
ing with the enemy at the time of Operation 
Homecoming in 1973. Reports by prisoners who had 
been held with him confirmed these suspicions. In- 
telligence gathered by DIA (Defense Intelligence 
Agency) as late as 1975 indicated he operated with 
Communist forces in Eastern QuangNam and Quang 
Ngai provinces. It was reported that Garwood "spoke 
Vietnamese fluently, had become a Communist Party 
member and had recently been promoted to the rank 
of major." 78 After his return to the United States in 
1979, it was alleged during his subsequent trial that 
he acted as an interpreter, interrogator, informer, and 
indoctrinator of his fellow prisoners. At one point he 
was said to have served as armed guard and to have 
struck several prisoners for the death of the camp com- 
mander's cat. Other prisoners testified that he also 
provided help to his fellow Americans and that his be- 

*First located in Saigon, the JCRC moved to Thailand in Febru- 
ary 197}. In May 1976, JCRC moved to NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. 



havior was the result of manipulation by the Com- 
munists.* 76 

Since the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, and up 
to 1990 the Defense Intelligence Agency has processed 
4,564 reports pertaining to Americans in Southeast 
Asia: information on grave sites, crash sites, dog tags, 
live sightings, hearsay, and even prison camp locations. 

*Garwood's trial is covered in detail in UCol Gary D. Solis' Ma- 
rines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire (Washington, D.C., 
History and Museums Division, U.S. Marine Corps, 1989). 

Of 672 Americans identified in these accounts: 78 per- 
cent had already returned alive, remains were located 
for 15 percent, and 7 percent were unaccounted for. 
As a matter of national policy, should "any report prove 
true, we will take appropriate action to ensure the 
return of those involved." Of the "live" sightings of 
Americans in Southeast Asia by 1986, 97 were "un- 
der continuing investigation in an attempt to confirm 
the information." Over half of these sightings were con- 
sidered not related to prisoner-of-war situations. 30 


Continuity and Change 

Operation End Sweep —Task Force Delta, The Tigers Depart— To What End? 

Operation End Sweep 

The withdrawal of III MAF units ftom Vietnam as a 
result of the Paris Accords was contingent upon the 
release of allied prisoners held by the Communists and 
the clearing of American mines from the harbors of 
North Vietnam. When these waterways were mined in 
May 1972, the possibility of the U.S. having to clear 
them had been recognized. These mines were a signifi- 
cant factor in negotiations, as the North Vietnamese 
possessed only rudimentary mine-clearing capabilities 
and apparently their Soviet and Chinese allies were 
not prepared to test theirs. 

This was the mission of Seventh Fleet's Mine Coun- 
termeasure Force (Task Force 78) under Rear Admiral 
Brian McCauley, a Naval Academy graduate with a 
degree in physics from Harvard and a surface warfare 
career in destroyers. Earlier reductions in size had left 
the Seventh Fleet with few minesweeping assets. Sur- 
face units resided mainly in the reserve, rather than 
in the active, force structure. As a result, the majority 
of any minesweeping had to be accomplished by 
helicopter units and the Navy possessed a single 
13-aircraft squadron. Planning for the clearing of 
mines, codenamed Formation Sentry, began in 
November 1972 when JCS ordered the Charleston, 
South Carolina-based Mine Countermeasure Com- 
mand (MCMC) and Helicopter Mine Countermeas- 
ure Squadron (HC) 12 to Cubi Point, Philippines.* 1 

Task Force 78 was formed at Subic Bay on 24 
November around the Mine Countermeasure Com- 
mand staff, including the Navy medium helicopter 
squadron HM-12 and the Guam-based Mine Flotilla 
1, and augmented by other West Coast units. Marine 
Corps representatives on the force staff were Lieutenant 
Colonel James C. Robinson, Lieutenant Colonel 
Charles B. Redman, and, later, Lieutenant Colonel 
Victor M. Lee. Admiral McCauley's initial concept en- 
visioned a single airborne mine-countermeasure 

♦formation Sentry I, the original mineclearing plan, was draft- 
ed by Cdr Paul L. Gruendl, USN, and other members of the mine 
countermeasure staff on temporary dury with CinCPac in 1972. It 
called for fewer assets to cover the same area in sequence over a longer 
period of time. The later Formation Sentry II planned for simul- 
taneous sweep with more assets involved. (Gruendl Comments) 

(AMCM) unit of eight aircraft supported by an LPH 
and LPD to clear five ports. As planning progressed, 
the complexity of the task and the desire to complete 
the clearing as soon as possible made it evident that 
the command did not possess the necessary forces to 
accomplish the mission. Admiral McCauley wrote, 
"Operation End Sweep had the highest priority in the 
Pacific Fleet. It commenced with the ceasefire and, as 
a result, people, ships, and aircraft, which in a war- 
time scenario would have been otherwise occupied, 
were made available." 2 Major General Leslie E. Brown, 
the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) commander, 
recalled that the decision was made at the "highest 
levels to employ USMC helicopters." The JCS and 
CinCPac staff directed Lieutenant General Louis H. 
Wilson, Jr., the FMFPac commanding general, to sup- 
port the Navy with Marine CH-53s, which were basi- 
cally the same as the HM-12 aircraft. Commander Paul 
L. Gruendl, Chief of Staff of the Mine Countermeas- 
ure Force, recalled the CH-53 had been adopted by 
the Secretary of the Navy with this mission in mind 
and that the hard-point fittings for towing equipment 
were already in place and "the aircraft was not modi- 
fied." 3 All of this caused concern to Lieutenant General 
Louis Metzger at III MAF regarding roles, missions, 
and, more importantly, the loss of 9th MAB amphibi- 
ous lift and aircraft. 4 General Metzger realized the im- 
plications of losing both helicopter squadrons and five 
amphibious ships because of the mine-clearing com- 
mitment, units upon which many demands had been 
made in the previous six months. Brigadier General 
Paul G. Graham of 9th MAB removed his Marine units 
from the appointed ships and changed their organi- 
zation to provide ship-based support for MACV, 
without helicopter assets. If required, the amphibi- 
ous assault ships (LPHs) from Task Force 78 would be 
made available to 9th MAB for amphibious oper- 

Operation End Sweep sent workhorse Marine 
helicopter squadrons where they least expected to fly, 
North Vietnam. End Sweep was also a new mission: 
airborne mine-clearing. To support the task force, 
FMFPac assigned Major John Van Nortwick Ill's 
Hawaii-based Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 




Operation End Sweep— Task Force 78 Organization 

Pacific Fleet 

Seventh Fleet 

Task Force 78 

CTG 78 8 
Squadron 1 

CTG 78.1 
Mobile Mine 

CTG 78.2 
Mine Flotilla 

CTG 78.3 
Base Support 

CTG 78.4 
Mine Counter- 
measures and 
Inland Warerways 

CTG 78.5 
Diving and 

adapted from Task Force 78 Material 

(HMH) 463 to 1st MAW. General Brown, the wing 
commander, assigned Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. 
Egger's composite Matine Medium Helicoptet Squa- 
dron (HMM) 165 to this mission as well, reinforced 
with the CH-53 Sea Stallions of HMH-462 and addi- 
tional CH-46 Sea Knights from HMM-164. Command 
elements were organized around the existing head- 
quarters of HMH-463 and HMM-165, with aircraft and 
crews coming from all the assigned Marine squadrons. 
The four supporting squadrons were at various loca- 
tions throughout the Western Pacific prior to Task 
Force 78 activation: HMM-165 with three CH-53s, two 
UH-ls, and five CH-46s on the USS New Orleans (LPH 
11) and HMH-463 with nine CH-53s, six CH-46s, and 
two UH-ls on the USS Inchon (LPH 12) and three 
CH-53s on the USS Cleveland. Nine HMH-462 
CH-53s at Cubi Point, Philippines, and at Futema, 
Okinawa, and all 12 of HMM-l64's aircraft at Futema 
could provide additional support if necessary. 5 

By 7 December 1972, the assigned forces had been 
identified: 10 ocean minesweepers, 9 amphibious 
ships, 6 fleet tugs, 3 salvage ships, 6 destroyers, 45 
helicopters, and more than 5,000 men serving with TF 

78. e Carrier- and land-based air support was available 
to protect the task force and additional support was 
provided by logistic and picket ships. 7 Four surface 
mine-countermeasure (SMCM) units were configured 
around the ocean-going minesweepers (MSOs). The 
four airborne mine-countermeasure (AMCM) units at- 
ranged to clear extensive areas of seven ports and 15 
inland waterways. According to the final concept, Ma- 
rine CH-53s were to be used in mine-sweeping oper- 
ations, CH-46s for logistics and search and rescue 
support, and UH-ls for command and control. Some 
missions were not covered by existing tactical proce- 
dures, as in how to conduct search-and-rescue opera- 
tions in a minefield? Aircraft and aircrew 
familiarization began at Naval Air Station, Cubi Point, 
Philippines, early in December 1972. The month wit- 
nessed intensified unit training at Subic Bay to qualify 
the Marine units in the technique of sweeping mines 
from the air. 

Following the final ceasefire agreement, on 24 Janu- 
ary 1973, the Joint Chiefs of Staff named the opera - 
tion End Sweep and ditected it to start on 27 January 
1973. 8 General Metzger passed control of designated 



Marine units to Admiral McCauley on 1 February. 
Control of Task Force 76's Amphibious Squadron 1 
(ARGs Alpha and Bravo) went to Task Force 78 at the 
same time. According to HMM-l65's Lieutenant 
Colonel Egger, the Vietnamese ceasefire became a real- 
ity when his unit's stay in Singapore was cut short and 
the unit was rushed back to Subic Bay for "a new and 
important assignment." 9 At Subic Bay, further inten- 
sive training brought the Marine aircrews up to the 
skill levels of their Navy counterparts. Major Van Non- 
wick reported that in the short period, 50 pilots and 
50 crewmen were given at least three training flights 
towing countermeasure devices. When the force 
departed Subic for North Vietnam, HMM-165 was on 
the USS New Orleans and HMH-463 was on board 
the USS Inchon. The Marine helicopters and crews 
were now integrated into five Navy-led AMCM 
units.* 10 

The task force's mission required the clearing of 
ports and coastal locations of more than 11,000 
MK52-2 mines and MK36 destructors that had been 
used during the course of the mining campaign. These 
devices were equipped with magnetic and acoustic 
fuzes that detonated when a target was close enough to 
activate the mine. Most were located in restricted water 
as shallow as three feet and the devices had been set 
to detonate or deactivate after a given period of time. 

At an initial meeting on 5 February 1973, at the 
Duyen Hai Hotel in Haiphong, Admiral McCauley 
negotiated with North Vietnamese Colonel Hoan Nuu 
Thai to establish procedures and the sequence of areas 
to be cleared. This set the pattern for subsequent 
negotiations which were often more political than 
technical. North Vietnamese demands were accompa- 
nied by thinly veiled threats that United States and 
Democratic Republic of Vietnam relations would not 
improve unless the Americans met all requirements, 
including the completion of mineclearing by 28 
March. If not, the North Vietnamese intimated that 
the release of American prisoners would not go 
smoothly. 11 

On 23 February 1973, AMCM Units Alpha and Bra- 
vo arrived at an anchorage off of Haiphong. The next 
day. Marines flew the command negotiating team to 
the Cat Bi Airfield for consultations with the North 
Vietnamese. Logistic runs to this airfield continued 

♦Flagship/Command Unit (New Orleans with 10 USMC CH-46s, 
2 USMC UH-ls, 7 USN CH-53s, 1 USN CH-46); AMCM Unit Al- 
pha (Cleveland 'with 3 USN CH-53s); AMCM Unit Bravo (Ogden 
with 3 USN CH-53s); AMCM Unit Charlie (Inchon with 9 USMC 
CH-53s, 10 USMC CH-46s, 2 USMC UH-ls, 1 USN CH-46); AMCM 
Unit Delta (Dubuque with 3 USMC CH-53s). 

throughout the period, while additional flights trans- 
ported men and equipment to install three Raydist** 
sites around Haiphong Harbor. Admiral Noel A. M. 
Gayler, CinCPac, suspended operations soon after 
they began and ordered Task Force 78 from the an- 
chorage on 28 February, when the release of Ameri- 
can prisoners was delayed, demonstrating that 
continued clearing was dependent upon prisoner 
release. The task force moved to a holding area at sea 
where the units practiced flight and sweep procedures 
until 4 March. On 7 March 1973, Marine CH-53s be- 
gan sweeping the Haiphong Channel with MK105 
towed sleds.*** Five days later, HMH-463 made its 
first sweeps of the Lach Huyen River. 12 On 17 March, 
Airborne Mine Countermeasure Units Charlie and In- 
chon began sweeping the Hon Gai approaches. 

In their daily routines, the helicopter crews swept 
a specific area. They used navigational aids located 
both on shore and on board minesweepers to ensure 
accurate location. The sweep flights themselves were 
time-consuming, repetitive passes over an assigned 
stretch of waterway at less than 100 feet above the sur- 
face. One pilot from HMH-463 described a typical 
minesweep sortie which began with the towing of the 
magnetic pipe from the LPD to the minefield under 
radar control, approximately a 30-minute process: 

At this time radar coverage from rhe LPD was lost and 
the actual two-hour sweep was conducted by pilot judge- 
ment utilizing previously prepared charts. A 30-minute 
return to the LPD followed. If operational planning was cor- 
rect and no mechanical difficulties were encountered, an in- 
coming relief helicopter passed the outgoing one at the 
minefield boundary. 13 

This was an exhaustive effort that required concen- 
tration and was flown in the knowledge of a possible 
pass too near the blast of a detonated mine. Other 
difficulties were North Vietnamese constraints on 
navigational airspace and sea lanes and poor flying 
weather. Major Joseph L.James, the HMM-165 execu- 
tive officer, stated that "for sixty-three days, ship and 
squadron personnel, while performing their new mis- 
sion, encountered low ceilings, fog, and instrument 
flight conditions." 14 The helicopters delivered supplies 
and equipment to North Vietnamese engineers at var- 

**A precise navigation system installed on the AMCM helicop- 
ters which used shore-based signal antennas. Ebr political reasons 
it was only used in the Haiphong channel. 

***The MK105 sled was one of the Five mine-countermeasure 
devices used. It was an influence minesweeping system using a float 
and foils to tow electrode trails. The other common device towed 
by Marines was the Magnetic Orange Pipe (MOP) using acoustic 
and magnetic systems. 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
The mineclearing in North Vietnam required the Ma- 
rines to bring together assets from outside the Western 
Pacific area. On the USS Inchon, Ma/Gen Leslie E. 
Brown, the 1st MAW commander, greets the officers 
and staff of HMH-463 on their arrival from Hawaii. 

ious inland waterway clearing sites. Flight routes into 
North Vietnam required strict compliance to stated 
arrival and departure times. 15 

Sweeps continued despite operational casualties, 
breakdowns in communications with the North Viet- 
namese, and other delays, until each area was ready 
for a surface test run by the MSS-2, a decommissioned 
LST (the former USS Washtenaw County). When the 
deactivation date of the mines was reached, flights be- 
came less demanding as check- or demonstration-only 
sweeps were made, rather than protracted clearance 
sweeps. The CH-53s suspended flight operations for 
a time in late March and early April 1973 after two 
of the helicopters crashed during towing operations. 
By 13 April 1973, clearing operations in the main 
Haiphong shipping channel were finished. 

Four days later, Vice Admiral James L. Holloway III, 
Seventh Fleet commander, ordered Admiral McCauley 
to withdraw the task force, without notice to the North 
Vietnamese, because of continued delays in the release 
of prisoners. The units of the task force made port visits 

A HMH-463 Sea Stallion displayed with examples of mine-countermeasure equipment. 
The CH-53 has two electrically controlled rear-view mirrors on its nose. In the foreground 
are a rattle bar and float and on the trailer at center are magnetic orange pipes (MOPs). 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
The Americans meet the Communists on board the USS New Orleans in Haiphong Har- 
bor at the beginning of End Sweep. The leader of the North Vietnamese negotiating 
team is third from the left, Col Hoang Huu Thai. He used army rank with naval insignia. 

Operations underway in North Vietnamese coastal waters. In this instance, a Marine CH-53 
is conducting a sweep flight in the Hon Gai channel. The cradle for the airborne mine- 
countermeasure equipment is attached to the lower rear of the fuselage below the ramp. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 




Marine Corps Historical Collection 
Underway airborne minesweeping, showing the equipment and aircraft and the low- 
level flight path needed to conduct operations. Repetitive sweep passes were required. 

On-board cameras recorded the results and locations of mine detonations. Looking from 
the rear of the helicopter an exploding mine sends a large water-spout into the air. 

Marine Corps Historical Collection 



Marine Corps Art Collection 
Combat artist Maj John T. Dyer, Jr., USMCR, painted a Task Force Delta A-6 Intruder 
from VMA(AW r )-533 in flight for combat operations from Nam Phong in 1975. Target 
areas had shifted from North and South Vietnam to Cambodia and Laos as the year began. 

to Hong Kong and Subic Bay and conducted needed 
maintenance and training. Marine Captain Raul A. 
Sifuentes, commanding AMCM Unit Delta, "cross- 
decked" his unit to the USS Vancouver (LPD 2) while 
at Subic Bay and on 20 April 1973, HMM-165 moved 
from the Inchon to the USS Tripoli. Finally, in 
response to a joint American and North Vietnamese 
communique signed in Paris, Task Force 78 sailed for 
North Vietnam to resume clearing operations, which 
began again on 18 June. It had been agreed in Paris 
that sweeping would resume within five days and that 
it would be completed within 35 days. On 20 June 
1973, after MSS-2 made four transits of the Haiphong 
channel to prove the safety of the area, Admiral 
McCauley notified the North Vietnamese that the 
"United States has concluded mine clearance opera- 
tions in the Nan Trieu [Haiphong] Main Channel." 18 
The clearance of Haiphong allowed the mine- 
sweeping units to concentrate now on the other har- 
bors and coastal areas. The Marines of AMCM Unit 
Charlie were assigned the channel to Hon Gai and 
AMCM Unit Delta to the Cam Pha channel. The 
North Vietnamese continued inland sweeping using 
American equipment and training. By 26 June 1973, 
these tasks were completed and the mines had either 
been detonated or were inert. Operations shifted fur- 
ther south to the Vinh area where, on 28 June, 
AMCMs Charlie and Delta started to sweep and check 

the seaward entrance to the Giang Song River. On 2 
July, AMCM Unit Delta proceeded to the Cua Sot 
coastal area to check-sweep, supported by the USS Og- 
den (LPD 5), Impervious (MSO 779), and Moctobi 
(ATF 105). There, one of HMH-463's helicopters made 
a forced water landing. The ships recovered both the 
crew and the wreckage. 

Admiral McCauley declared the Vinh, Hon La, Cua 
Sot, and Quang Hung areas clear on 4 July 1973- Ship- 
based HMM-165 and HMH-463 departed North Viet- 
nam for Subic Bay, evading Typhoon Anita enroute. 
Logistic support of the inland waterways operations by 
the Democratic Republic of Vietnam personnel con- 
tinued through mid-July when End Sweep ended. Ad- 
miral McCauley informed the North Vietnamese the 
End Sweep forces would depart their waters on 18 July. 
A final U.S. and North Vietnamese disagreement 
prevented the sweeping of the ports of Thanh Hoa and 
Dong Hoi, as well as several small minefields in coastal 
waters. 17 

Admiral McCauley shifted his flag on shore at Su- 
bic Bay and Task Force 78 was disestablished. Detached 
on 24 July 1973, the Marines returned to III MAF af- 
ter seven demanding months with Task Force 78 that 
had placed a toll on men and machines, even with 
the credible maintenace effort. HMH-463 flew a to- 
tal of 2,147 hours, including 745 hours of the task 
force's 2,000 hours under tow with AMCM operations, 



present a challenge of nearly the magnitude that could 
be expected in the future. 22 General Metzger, III MAF, 
and General Wilson, FMFPac, realized that the Na- 
vy's shortage of mine-countermeasure ships and 
helicopters meant that Marine Corps assets had to be 
diverted from an amphibious to a fleet role to per- 
form End Sweep, even if they did not relish it. 
Task Force Delta, The Tigers Depart 
As Operations Homecoming and End Sweep were 
completed, some Marines were still at war. Task Force 
Delta's combat sorties continued in Cambodia, just 
when ". . . it appeared that MAG-15 would not be 
involved in combat air operations" 33 The March 1973 
dry season saw the Khmer Rouge trying to take Phnom 
Penh, and closing all major highways into the Cam- 
bodian capital. The situation for the Lon Nol govern- 
ment was critical with the interdiction of the Mekong 
River, the major supply artery from the sea through 
South Vietnam. The defense of the capital and the 
reopening of the river required direct American air 
support to the Cambodian Army. Marine Aircraft 
Group (MAG) 15 continued operations in April, fly- 
ing missions assigned by Seventh Air Force for day- 
time bombing and strafing directed by airborne 

Command supervision from fleet Marine Force Pacific ensured that the Marines in Thailand 
were not forgotten. Here LtGen Louis H. Wilson, Jr., on the right, arrives at Nam Phong 
to be met by, from the left, the Thai base commander, Col Nimol; BGen Robert W. 
Taylor, task force commander, and Col Aubrey W. Talbert, Jr., MAG-15 commander. 

Marine Aircraft Group 15 Command Chronology 

while HMM-165 flew 3,444 sorties, for 1,690 hours. 18 
In flying these hours, the squadrons of the AMCM 
group swept 27,000 miles of water. 18 

Squadrons had learned new procedures in conduct- 
ing mine countermeasures, search and rescue, water 
survival, aircraft modifications, and evaluations. As 
HMH-463's Major Van Nortwick said, they "once again 
proved that Marine Corps aviation can operate in any 
environment, at any time, with skill and profession- 
alism." 20 The Marines anticipated a return to the home 
stations, Hawaii for HMH-463 and Okinawa for 
HMM-165, to conduct needed maintenance and refit- 
ting not possible on ship. The continuing war in 
Southeast Asia found HMM-165 retained on the Tripo- 
li to support the 31st MAU tasked with Operation Ea- 
gle Pull, the evacuation of American personnel from 
Cambodia. As one crisis was over, another was be- 
ginning. 21 

Admiral McCauley cautioned in his after-action 
report that it "would be a mistake to attempt to de- 
vise general, long-standing mine warfare conclusions 
from the specific operational and political arena in 
which End Sweep was conducted," End Sweep was a 
unique solution to a unique problem and did not 



Marine Corps Ait Collection 
Majjokn T. Dyer, Jr., USMCR, recorded some mundane tasks at the Rose Garden as well 
as flight operations. Contract Thai civilians wash down an F-4 Phantom from VMFA-115. 

controllers. This involved the F-4s of Marine Fighter 
Attack Squadrons (VMFA) 115 and 232, flying 12 to 
20 sorties a day. "Moderate to heavy" antiaircraft fire 
by the Communists was received from 23mm, 37mm, 
and SA7 weapons in positions set up along major com- 
munications routes. Previously, the Khmer Rouge had 
used small arms and 12.7mm machine guns. 24 Begin- 
ning 11 May 1973, Marine All Weather Attack Squa- 
dron (VMA[AWJ) 533 conducted strikes using its 
airborne moving target indicator and ground radar 
beacons to carry out armed road reconnaissance at a 
rate of five sorties a night. The distances flown to the 
targets required inflight refueling by Marine Aerial 
Refueler Squadron 152 Detachment Delta before and 
after the target areas were hit. 25 By June, the begin- 
ning of the annual monsoon season, the ground cri- 
sis had been passed with the help of MAG-15. By not 
authorizing continued funding, Congress brought 

an end to this support that summer. By then, Task 
Force Delta had flown 10,215 combat sorties involving 
a total of 30,998 flight hours and 24,584 tons of ord- 
nance. Three A-6s and two F-4s were lost in combat. 26 
The "on again, off again" nature of Task Force Del- 
ta's deployment, its isolation, and the proximity of 
Thai civilians and available "recreational" drugs, in- 
creased the importance of law enforcement as the du- 
ration of the stay in Thailand extended beyond the 
ceasefire. As the unifying effect of combat was re- 
moved, social tensions of the era manifested themselves 
in unrest, drink- and drug-related incidents, and vio- 
lations of military law. 27 A serious incident of racial 
unrest occurred in July 1973 with a series of confron- 
tations among black and white Marines that escalat- 
ed into a mess-hall riot and resultant bitterness. 28 In 
the subsequent investigations and court cases, it de- 
veloped that the mixture of air and ground Marines 


Task Ebrce Delta command chronology 
The field mess was an essential element to morale and 
well-being. At Nam Thong it was the center of daily 
activity outside of a Marine 's ditty station or billet. 

was a factor in this turmoil, compounded by the short- 
term rotational nature of personnel assignmenrs.* 
Major John T. "Jack" Dyer, Jr., a combat artist from 
Headquarters Marine Corps, assigned to Nam Phong 
that summer, recorded the scene in words and pictures 
in 1973: 

. . The Rose Garden experience will soon be history, 
remembered most vividly by those who were there. With 
the passage of time the unpleasant heat, dust, mud, long 
hours of hard work, nightmarish combat flights, tepid show- 
ers when available, four-holers and Montezuma's revenge, 
will slowly fade from memory. Until the next time. "The 
Marines don't promise you a Rose Garden, just one good 
deal after another." 26 

This was the situation faced by Colonel Darrel E. 
Bjorklund who assumed command of MAG-15 from 
Colonel Talbert on 26 July 1973. Increased concerns 
for internal security brought increased emphasis on 
SUl defense forces, which now included a "K-9" dog 

*While the leadership problems were similar in division and wing, 
the leadership styles used to solve them were different. Innovative 
programs were tried by 1st MAW injapan: human relations instruc- 
tion, counseling centers for addicts and alcoholics, a hotline tele- 
phone service, a "coffee house," and cultural center. These programs 
were not in place at Nam Phong, 


section, a criminal investigation detachment, customs 
inspectors, and a military police platoon. Their func- 
tions included manning roadblocks, running patrols, 
and maintaining a temporary detention facility. Ma- 
rine commanders also employed more positive solu- 
tions in providing adequate recreation, education, and 
personal-services support to meet the wing com- 
mander's goals of "racial harmony and the elimina- 
tion of drug/alcohol abuse." 30 Some of the mote 
innovative "human relations" methods conflicted with 
the more ttaditional ones. These were grounded in 
obedience to otders as opposed to sensitive treatment 
of social minorities. As in other Marine Corps units, 
the answer to leadership problems was found in pride 
and purpose. Whether innovative programs or tradi- 
tional leadership values resolved the social issues which 
paralled those in Ametican society remains a matter 
of conjectute. 31 

All the while, planning continued and was com- 
pleted to withdtaw the Matines and to retutn Nam 
Phong to the Thai government. Task Fotce Delta's 
Operation Plan (OpPlan) 1-73 (Opetation Sunset) was 
used as the basis for the 10 August 1973 ptogtam direc- 
tive from the Military Assistance Command, Thailand 
(MACThai), that standardized the anticipated base 
closure. Brigadier General Manning T. Jannell replaced 
General Taylor as commanding general on 14 August 
1973. Jannell arrived from Headquarters Marine Corps 
in Washington, DC, where he had been the Assis- 
tant Quartermaster General. The withdrawal of the 
Marines seemed imminent, but no date was set. Af- 
ter 15 August, efforts were made to ready Task force 
Delta for departute while maintaining a high level of 
operational readiness 32 Marine Corps units by their 
expeditionary nature ate ptepated to deploy with 
standing embarkation plans and special containers and 
packing material for all items of equipment. Inspec- 
tions by the MAG-15 embarkation officer, Major 
Frederick J. Schober, uncovered a major problem in 
the disintegration of "embatkation boxes" from ex- 
posure to the elements in the tropical conditions of 
the Rose Gatden. 

General Jannell was directed to carry out OpPlan 
1-73 on 27 August 1973 when the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
had directed the shut-down of Nam Phong with a tar- 
get date of 30 August. Task Force Delta's command 
chronology recorded, "received execute order for retro- 
grade. Today is designated as 'R' day." 33 Aftet U.S. 
notification of the Thai and Japanese Governments 
of the move, General Jannell proceeded to relocate all 
tactical aircraft, 4.5 million pounds of cargo, and 2,147 



Marine Corps Historical Collection 
Living in the field had evolved from general-purpose tents to more permanent Southeast 
Asia huts of plywood, screen, and corrugated aluminum. These are the squadron 
"hootches" ofVMA(AW)-533, painted Air Force blue with unit markings on the doors. 

When Task Force Delta withdrew from 'Nam Phong, supplies and equipment were pre- 
pared for movement by loading prefabricated or commercial embarkation boxes. A neces- 
sary component of expeditionary operations, this material had suffered from exposure. 

Photo courtesy of Cdr Peter B. Mersky, USNE. 



We dorft 
promise you 
a rose garden 

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A701725 
The Nam Phong base of Task Force Delta was nick- 
named the "Rose Garden" from this recruiting poster 
and slogan used by Marines during the early 1970s. 

men. This had to be carried out so as to ensure the 
least disruption of combat readiness of the units in- 
volved * The movement itself consisted of the fly-away 
of tactical aircraft, air transport for people, and sealift 
for equipment. The airlift required 106 MAC C-l4ls 
and C-5s; in addition, VMGR-152 and the Pacific Air 
Traffic Management Agency used their C-130s 
throughout the 11-day movement. At 0600, 30 Au- 
gust 1973, the A-6sofVMA(AW)-533 launched down 
the runway at Nam Phong for the last time. They were 
followed on the next day by VMFA-115 and on 1 Sep- 
tember by VMFA-232. Because of the previous plan- 
ning and anticipation of the move, the final 
withdrawal from Thailand took on its own momen- 
tum. Some delay occurred to obtain more commer- 
cial trucks to move the sea echelon 400 miles to 
Sattahip. Once at the port of embarkation, the officer- 
in-charge of the movement unit found that expected 
U.S. Navy amphibious ships were not available and 
that the Military Sealift Command's SS Green Forest 

*Brigadier General Victor A. Armstrong, the deputy chief of staff 
of FMFPac, observed that the total wear and tear on aircraft and 
equipment was significant, and that the "Marine Corps lived with 
some of these problems for several years." (Armstrong Comments) 

and Puerto Rico would provide the lift for some seven 
million pounds of cargo, which was mainly the vehi- 
cles of the task force. 34 

General Jannell completed the turnover of facili- 
ties and remaining equipment to a representative of 
the Thai Supreme Command. After calls on the U.S. 
Embassy and MACThai, General Jannell supervised 
the final color detail at Royal Thai Air Force Base Nam 
Phong at 0800, 21 September 1973, as the "American 
flag was lowered . . . signifying the departure of the 
final increment of the 2,100 U.S. Marines stationed 
at the facility in support of Cambodia air opera- 
tions."** 35 Present were the Thai Minister of Defense 
and the Commanding General of the 1st Marine Air- 
craft Wing. "Approximately 50 members of the press 
flew in from Bangkok to observe the final departure," 
recalled Jannell, who met them, along with MAG-lVs 
Colonel Bjorklund. 38 The story of the "Rose Garden" 
was closed with this last official act. 37 By now most Ma- 
rine were gone; on 23 September both commerical 
ships were on their way tojapan and on 2 November 
1973, the task force was dissolved. 

To What End? 

The Vietnam scholar, Douglas Pike, observed that 
the North Vietnamese, under Soviet tutelage and with 
Chinese logistics support, mounted a conventional 
combined-arms invasion of South Vietnam after a de- 
cade of revolutionary war. Their efforts had progressed 
from dependence on manpower to a battle of tech- 
nology fought on sea, air, and land. For the Com- 
munists this was a continuation of the process of 
military, political, and diplomatic efforts to achieve 
their goal of domination of the Indochina region. This 
aggression was met by the South Vietnamese with 
American support, primarily logistics and firepower. 38 

The Marines who came to symbolize the Marine 
commitment to Vietnam during the 1972 Spring 
Offensive were the advisors, the Covans, who with the 
Marines and sailors of ANGLICO's Sub Unit One, 
served with the Vietnamese through the initial defeat 
and subsequent victories. Coming from diverse back- 
grounds and experience, their common characteristic 
was earlier successful combat tours. According to par- 
ticipant Lieutenant Colonel Andrew D. DeBona, they 
"were well trained and wanted to be there." 39 

The 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, Marine Air- 

**On 24 September 1973, the Marine Corps Historical Division 
noted that "we should accept this time and date as being the offi- 
cial end of the U.S. Marine Corps participation in the Southeast 
Asian War." (Director of Marine Corps History memo dtd 24Sept73) 



craft Group 12, and Marine Aircraft Group 15 were 
destined to serve in anonymity, their efforts not con- 
sidered newsworthy at the time. 40 As a matter for the 
historical record, when the Vietnamese Marine Divi- 
sion moved from Saigon to defend Hue in April 1972, 
aggressive support by III MAF forces contributed to 
the success in defeating Communists there and at 
Quang Tri City. The contributions made by Marine 
Aircraft Group 12 to the defense of An Loc in Mili- 
tary Region 3 were also noteworthy. 41 

The Marine Corps response reflected the changing 
security requirements of the decade, as much as it did 
the continuation of the previous era of Fighting in 
Vietnam. When considered in the context of maritime 
strategy, the variety of demands placed upon III MAF 
Marines in 1972 and 1973 can be viewed as post-war 
deployments that set a pattern for the next decade of 
contingencies in the Far East and elsewhere. These un- 
derscored the need for flexibility, versatility, and 
presence. As each crisis occurred, the first United States 
tactical units to respond were the forces deployed 
afloat, specifically the amphibious ready groups with 
embarked Marines. 42 The other major employment, 
the independent and expeditionary operation of Ma- 
rine air forces, was demonstrated by MAG-12 and 
MAG-15 as landward extensions of naval aviation. 

Previous contingency operations in Lebanon, the 
Dominican Republic, and by the Special Landing Force 
in Vietnam had shown the way. But, in 1972, there 
was no doctrine for the conduct of a "noncombatant 
evacuation" other than the "seize, occupy, defend, and 
withdraw" missions enunciated in FMFM 8-1, Special 
Operations* What emerged from the 9th MAB ex- 

*The edition of 13 May 1968 was then current. This was the refer- 
ence used to prepare operations ordets and plans for raids, demon- 
strations, and withdrawals. Concepts for evacuations have been 
published since, as noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO). 

perience was a more refined concept of the noncom- 
batant evacuation and the use of "seabasing," rather 
than costly deployment ashore. Continued revisions 
took place in the Mediterranean contingencies of 1973, 
and were put to the test during the final evacuations 
of Phnom Phenh and Saigon in 1975- 

The Marine Corps response to the North Viet- 
namese invasion brought together a number of diverse 
efforts and enterprises. For III MAF, the story of this 
period was of a campaign that saw the assembly and 
employment of amphibious and air forces to achieve 
political goals. General Metzger, the Marine com- 
mander who carried out this response, stated that 
". . . we were ready. We met every challenge," 
challenges that saw operations ranging in scope from 
combat to contingency over a vast geographic area. 43 
At what cost were the U.S. Marine Corps' efforts to 
be measured for this period? From mid-1971 until 29 
January 1973, 21 Marines were killed, 82 wounded, 
20 reported missing, and 4 captured. Twenty- four Ma- 
rine aircraft were lost in combat during this same in- 
terval. 44 These casualties are added to the total of 
13,005 Marines killed and 88,635 wounded over the 
course of the war from 1961 through 1973** This 
fighting had the smallest Marine casualty rate of the 
war and in these limited terms "Vietnamization" was 
successful. But while the Marines endured, the Com- 
munists persisted. U.S. Army Colonel Harry G. Sum- 
mers, Jr., commented to an NVA colonel in Hanoi in 
April 1975 that "you never defeated us on the bat- 
tlefield." After a moment the North Vietnamese 
colonel replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrele- 
vant." 45 The record of this period then, must reflect 
both direct and indirect costs to the Corps of the war 
that would not end. 

**The Vietnam Memorial lists 14,809 total dead, including those 
missing and ptesumcd dead. 




Unless otherwise noted, all unpublished Marine Corps documents 
consulted in preparation of this study are in the custody of the Ar- 
chives Section, Marine Corps Historical Center (MCHC), Washing- 
ton, DC. Unless otherwise noted, the narrative is derived from 
CinCPac, Command History 1971 through 1973, hereafter CinC- 
Pac ComdHist [year]; USMACV, Command History 1971 through 
1973, hereafter MACV ComdHist [year]; ComNavFbrV, Command 
History 1971 through 1972, hereafter NavForV ComdHist [year]; 
ComSevenrhFIt, Command History 1971 through 1973, hereafter 
SeventhFlt ComdHist [year]; HQFMFPac, Opetations of U.S. Ma- 
rine Forces Southeast Asia, July 1971-March 1973, hereafter FMFPac 
MarOpsSEA; and respective Marine Corps unit command chronol- 
ogies and after-action reports. 

Nixon's Doctrine 

1. CMC Reference Notebooks 1973, Tab I-F-l, "U.S. Objectives/Mili- 
tary Objectives in SEAsia; The President's Report to Congress on 
Foreign Policy," 9Feb72. Also, Marshall Green, "The Nixon Doc- 
trine: A Progress Report," Department of State Bulletin, 8Feb71. 

2. Gen Robert E. Cushman, Jt., "To the Limit of Our Vision and 
Back," United States Naval Institute Proceedings, May74, p. 121. 

3. HQMC(C/S), "Major Accomplishments, 1972-1973," Tab A, Plans 
and Operations, memo 24Jan74. 

Contingency Forces 

4. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 1-1 to 1-6. 

5. Marine Corps Command Center, Landing Forces Seventh Fleet, 
Tabs 43-1 to 43-3, 18Nov70. 

6. Marine Corps Museum script, "Time Tunnel" Case 19 (MCHC, 
Washington, DC ). 

7. SeventhFlt ComdHist72, passim. For the period coveted this in- 
cluded Amphibious Squadrons 3, 5, and 7. 

8. Col Raymond M. Kostesky, Comments on draft ms, 22jan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

9 FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 1-7 to 1-9. 

Flexibility and Response 

10. FMFPac, "Operations of U.S. Marine Forces in Vietnam," May- 
June 1971, p. 19. 

Command Relations 

11. VAdm Stansfield Turner, "Missions of the U.S. Navy," Naval War 

College Review, Mar-Apr74, pp. 2-17; BGen Edwin H, Simmons, 
"The Marines: Now and in the Future," Naval Review 1975, May75, 
pp. 102-117; "Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam, 1969-1972," 
Naval Review 197}, May73, pp. 196-223; and Cdr Robert C. Schread- 
ley, "The Naval War in Vietnam, 1950-1970," Naval Review 1971, 
May71, pp. 180-209. 

12. LtGen Louis Metzger, Comments on draft ms, 8Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

Residual Forces 

13- MACV ComdHisr71, Vol. II, p. F-9. Also, Bob Heim, "Tell Them 
We're Here," Leatherneck, Aug72, pp. 24-29. 

Marine Securiry Guard, Saigon 

14. MSGBn ComdC 1971, passim Also, SSgr M. M. Parterson, 
"Leathernecks With a Special Mission," The Observer [MACV], 

15. MGySgr Harry G. Lock, Comments on draft ms, 3Jul90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

16. Ibid. 

The Marine Air Control Squadion Detachment 

17. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 21. 

Sub Unit One, 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company 

18. LtGen D'Wayne Gray, Comments on draft ms, 9Nov89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

19. Col D'Wayne Gray intvw, 18Mar75, Tape 6021 (Oral HistColl, 
MCHC), hereafter Gray intvw. Also, MajGen D'Wayne Gray Itrs 
to BGen Edwin H. Simmons, 25Aug71, l4Sept71, 3Nov7L l3Feb72, 
24May72, and 28Apr83 (Vietnam Comment File). 

20. Gray comments. 

21. Sub Unit One ComdC, Aug71. 

22. Sub Unit One msg to CMC, 30Aug71 (Vietnam Comment File), 

23. Sub Unit One ComdC, Sep7l. 

24. Sub Unit One ComdC, Oct71, Nov71. 

25. Ibid. 

26. MarAdvU File, MarAdvU Turnover folder, SMA kr to CGFRAC, 
7Sept72; SMA memo, 90ct72; and SMA memo. 26Dec72. 

27. MACV ComdHist71, p. V-42. 

28. Gray intvw. 


Unless otherwise noted, material in Chapters 2 through 9 is der- 
ived from: Vietnamese Marine Corps/Marine Advisory Unit Histor- 
ical Summary 1954-1973, hereafter VNMC HistSum; Marine 




Advisory Unit Historical Summary, 1972, hereafter MarAdvU 
HistSum72; Marine Advisory Unit Monthly Historical Summary, 
hereafter MarAdvU ComdC [date]; The Covan newsletter, hereafter 
Covan [date]; and Marine Advisory Unit files received from the 
VNMC Logistics Branch, Navy Division, U.S. Defense Attache Office, 
hereafter MarAdvU File; Operations Evaluation Group, "Defense 
of Hue and Quang Tri City," ONR report CNS 1035 dtd May 72 
(CNA, Washington, D.C.), heteafter CNA Hue&Quang Hi.) Also, 
"Standing Operating Procedures for Marine Advisory Unit," MAUO 
P5000.1A, n.d.; Marine Advisory Unit, NAG, "The Role of the Ad- 
visor," ms, n.d.; and Maj Nguyen Thanh Tri, "Vietnamese Advi- 
sor," Marine Corps Gazette, Dec68, pp. 29-32 (MarAdvU File). 

Naval Advisory Group, Naval Advisory Units 

1. Cape Robert H. Whitlow, U.S. Marines m Vietnam, 1954-1964: 
The Advisory and Combat Assistance Era (Washington, D.C.: 
Hist&MusDiv, HQMC, 1977), p. 142, hereafter Whitlow, Marines 
in Vietnam 1954-1964. 

The Rung Sat Special Zone 

2. Maj Ronald S. Neubauer intvw, 26jun75, Tape 6025 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC). 

3. JOl Bob Williams, "Rung Sat," Leatherneck, Oct71, pp. 83-84. 

The Mekong Delta Tactical Zone 

4. MACV, ComdHist 1971, Vol. IF, p. p-E-12; CincPac ComdHist71, 
vol. 1, p. 313. 

5. Maj Donald R. Gardner Itr to LtCol Arnold, 30Oct75; MajGen 
Donald R. Gardner, Comments on draft ms, 23Jan90 (Vietnam 
Comment File). 

Naval Advisory Group, Marine Advisory Unit 

6. Col Victor J. Croizat, Comments to Maj Melson, 28Sep87; Whit- 
low, Marines in Vietnam 1934-1964, p. 16; Command Histories and 
Historical Sketches of RVNAF Divisions, 6Feb73. 

7. Col Joshua W. Dorsey III intvw, 21May75, Tape 6023 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC, Washington, D.C.); Senior Marine Advisor, Senior 
Officer Debriefing Report, 23Jan73, hereafter SMA debrief; and 
Award Recommendation, Joshua Worthington Dorsey III, 26Feb73 
(MarAdvU File). 

Trusted Friends' 

8. Capt Ray L. Smith intvw, 9Mar75, Tape 6020 (Oral HistColl, 
MCHC, Washington, D.C.); Maj Theodore L. Gatchel and Maj 
Donald L. Price, Advisor Presentation to the Company of Military 
Historians, 4May74, hereafter CMH Presentation (Vietnam Com- 
ment File). 

Winding Down 

9. MarAdvU ComdC, Jul71, Aug71. 

10. SMA Briefing Folder, Tab I, Marine Base Concept, HDec7l; En- 
gineer Advisor Folder, Tab C, Base Camp Brief (MarAdvU File). 

11. Training Advisor Folder, Tab V, Turnover, 15Nov71 (MarAdvU 

12. Training Folder, Tab 7, p. 1, MRC62/MRC63 Radio Relay Equip- 
ment (MarAdvU File); MarAdvU ComdC, Sep71. 

13. Dorsey intvw; SMA Briefing Folder, Senior Marine Advisor Goals, 
p. 4, MAU Goals and Objectives FY72, 40ct71 (MarAdvU File). 

Along the DMZ 

14. MACV Advisory Team 155 records (Boxes 111 to 114, AccNo. 
334-74 146, Washington National Records Centet); Col Donald J. 
Metcalf, USA, intvw by MACV, 15Sep72; Team 15 5 AAR, 
30Mar-lMay72; and "Why the Defense of Quang Tri Province, SVN, 
Collapsed," AWC study, 230ct72 (Vietnam Comment File). Also, 
Howard C W. Feng, "The Road to the 'Ben Hai' Division: An Anal- 
ysis of the Events Leading to the Formation of the 3d ARVN Infan- 
try Division in October 1971," MA thesis (University of Hawaii), 

15. Maj Walter E. Boomer intvw, 9Mar75, Tape 6020 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC). 

16. MarAdvU ComdC, Nov71. 

17. Dotsey intvw. 

18. MarAdvU ComdC. Dec71. 

19. Col Donald L. Price, Comments on draft ms, 7Feb90 (Vietnam 
Comment File). 

20. LtCol Robert H. Sheridan intvw, 21Mar75, Tape 6022 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC); LtCol Robert H. Sheridan, Comments on draft ms, 
20Mar90 (Vietnam Comment File). 

21. LtCol William C. Camper, USA, Comments on draft ms, 19Jan90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

22. Gen Westmoreland msg to JCS, lFeb72 (Vietnam Comment 

23. ComUSMACV msg to 7AF, USAtV, NavForV, XXIVCorps, 
SRAC, TRAC, DRAC, lFeb72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

24. MarAdvU ComdC, Jan72. 

25. Sheridan intvw; MarAdvU ComdC, Feb72. 

26. CNA Hue&QuangTri, p. A-7. 

27. XXIV Corps, Periodic Intelligence Report 5-72, 5Mar72, pp. 
11-13; LtGen Welborn G. Dolvin, USA, Senior Officer Debriefing 
Report, 20Mar72, p. 3; MajGen Frederick J Kroesen, USA. "Quang 
Tii," MHRC, Carlisle Batracks, 1974, pp. 3-4, hereafter Kroesen ms; 
MACV, "The Nguyen Hue Offensive," study, Jan73, hereafter MACV 
Nguyen Hue study; Capt Edwin W. Besch, Comments on draft ms, 
13Mar90; Col Peter F. C. Armstrong, "Capabilities and Intentions," 
Marine Corps Gazette, Sep86, pp. 38-47 (Vietnam Comment File). 

28. MajGen Waltet E. Boomer, Comments on draft ms, 28Dec89 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

29. Manh Nhieu, "With a Shock Unit," Vietnam No. 168, 1972, 
pp. 14-16. 

The Spring Offensive 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from: 
MarAdvU ComdC, Mar72, Apt72; LtGen Ngo Quang Truong, The 
Easter Invasion (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military 
History, 1979), hereafter Thiong, Invasion; LtGen Le Nguyen Kang 
intvw, 30Sep75; HqPacAF, "The 1972 Invasion of Military Region 
1: Fall of Quang Tri and Defense of Hue," Project CHECO report, 
15Mar73, hereafter CHECO Invasion72. Also, LtCol Gerald H. Turley 



& Capt Marshall R. Wells, "Easter Invasion 1972," Marine Corps 
Gazette, Mar73, pp. 18-29; and Jeffrey J. Clarke, Advice and Sup- 
port: The Final Year (Washington, D.C.: US- Army Center of Mili- 
tary History, 1988). 

Turley wirh Team 155 

1. Maj Jim R. Joy, memo, 10Apr72 (MarAdvU File); LtCol Gerald 
H. Turley intvw, 17Jan74, Tape 6029; intvw 3ljul75, Tape 6027 (Oral 
HistColl, MCHC). 

2. Camper comments. 

3. Gen Frederick J. Kroesen, USA, Comments on draft ms, 3Jan90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

4. MarAdvU ComdC, Mar72; Kroesen ms, p. 7. 

The Opening Round 

5. Smith intvw. 

Team 155 Under Fire 

6. Maj James E. Smock, USA, "Organization and Training of the 
ARVN 20th Tank Squadron," ms, 1976 (Viernam Comment File). 

7. MACV, PerlntRep, May72; MACV Nguyen Hue study; and XXIV 
Corps, PerlnrRep 5-72, 5Mar72. 

8. Kroesen ms, p. 4. 

9. FRAC, "Narrarive Description of Vietnamese Marine Division 
Operarions," hereafter FRAC/VNMCOpns, lOct72. App A, Brig 
147, pp.' 1-12, (MarAdvU File). 

The Outposrs Fall 

10. Boomer Comments. 

Ar the Combat Base at Ai Tu 

11. Capt John D. Murray, et al., USNA Advisor PreSention, 28Feb73, 
Tape 3060 (Oral HistColl, MCHC), hereafter USNA presentation; 
SMA, Advisor's Personal Evaluation of the NVA Easter 72 Offen- 
sive Folder, hereafter SMA Evaluarion; Intel/Recon Advisor Recom- 
mendarions, 25Apr72, p. 2 (MarAdvU File). 

VNMC Brigade 258 Reinforces 

12. Maj Jon T. Easley, et al., USNA presentation; Maj Regan R. 
Wright intvw, 23Apr72, Tape 5089 (Oral HistColl, MCHC); SMA 
Evaluation, Intelligence Tab, p. 2, (MarAdvU File) 

Enemy in rhe Wire, 31 March 1972 

13- Smith inrvw. 

14. Capt Ray L. Smith, er al., USNA presentation. 

Fire Supporr Base Sarge Holds On 

15. Manh Nhieu, "With a Shock Unit," Vietnam No. 168, 1972, 
pp. 14-16. 

16. Kroesen ms, p. 7. 

17. Gray comments. 

18. IstLr Joel B Eisenstein inrvw by LtCol Gerald H. Turley; Sub 
Unit One, OIC Naval Gunfire Liaison Spot Team 1-2 AAR, 30Apr72 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

19 Sub Unit One ComdC, Apr72, p. 6; HQMC Report of Casualty 
No. 364-72 and No. 364A-72. 

20. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App B, Brig 258, pp. 1-2; Easley, USNA 
presentation; Capr William D. Wischmeyer intvw, l6Apr72, Tape 
5094 (Oral HistColl, MCHC); Maj William R. Warren intvw, 
l6Apr72, Tape 5095 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 

The Collapse of rhe Ring of Steel 

21. CNA Hue&Quang Tri, p. 118. 

22. Metcalf intvw, p. 2. 

23. Order of battle worksheers (Besch comments). 

24. Col Raymond R. Battreall, USA, intvw by MACV, 14Jan73, 
p. 12 (Vietnam Comment File). 

25. Turley intvw; Mercalf intvw; Battreall intvw. 

26. Kroesen comments. 

27. Col Gerald H Turley, Comments on draft ms, l5Dec89; Maj 
David A, Brookbank, USAF, Special Report Air Liaison Officer, 
31Jul72, hereafter Brookbank report (Viernam Comment File). 


Unless otherwise noted, material in rhis chapter is derived from: 
SMA ComdC, Mar72, Apr72; Brig 258 Tab, SMA Evaluation; Capr 
John W. Ripley memo to SMA dtd l4Jan73 (MarAdvU File). Also, 
Gerald H. Turley, The Easter Offensive (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 
1985); John G. Miller, The Bridge At Dong Ha (Annapolis: Naval 
Institute Press, 1989); and Vicki Vanden Bout, "Ripley at the Bridge," 
Leatherneck, Febf!6, pp. 16-19. 

The Easter Sunday Crisis 

1. Capr David S. Randall, Jr., intvw, Mar72. Tape 5093 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC); Randall, et al., USNA presentation. 

2. Turley intvw. 

The Dong Ha Bridge 

3. FRAC/VNMCOps App B, Brig 258, pp. 1-3; Easley, et al., USNA 

4. Maj John W. Ripley intvw, 23Apr72, Tape 5089 and 21Aug75, 
Tape 6032 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 

5. Col John W. Ripley, Comments on draft ms, 29May90 (Vietnam 
Comment File); Ripley intvw. 

6. Maj James E. Smock, USA, ltrs to LtCol Arnold, 19Mar76 and 
23Mar76, hereafter Smock ltrs (Vietnam Comment File). 

7. Ripley comments. 

8. Ripley comments and intvw. 

9. LrCol Gerald H. Turley ltr to ComNavForV, 6Apr72, SMA Evalu- 
arion (MarAdvU File); Gray comments. 

Action at the Bridge 

10. Ripley comments and intvw. 

11. Ripley comments. 

Reaction at Saigon 

12. Gray comments. 



Camp Carroll Surrenders 
13 Camper comments. 

14. LrCol William C, Camper, USA, intvw by Col Gerald H. Turley, 
18Jun83; LrCol George Philip III, Commenrs on draft ms, 21Dec89 
(Vicrnam Comment File); Randall intvw; Kroesen ms, p. 8; LtCol 
Pham Van Dinh, ARVN, broadcast transcript, 3Apr72; "Contacts 
with Saigon Mutineer Officer," Vietnam No. 169, 1972, pp. 6-7. 

Mai Loc Exposed 

15. Boomer intvw 

16. Boomer intvw. 

17. Boomer comments. 

The Dong Ha Bridge Destroyed 

18. Ripley comments; Turley intvw; MACVTeam 155 AAR, Annex 
F, Execution; LtCol Louis C. Wagner, Jr., USA, Senior Advisor Af- 
ter Action Report, 1st Armor Brigade, lApr-2May72, p. 5, here- 
after Wagner report (Vietnam Comment File). 

Callsign BAT-21 

19- Ripley comments; Capt John W. Ripley Navy Cross award cita- 
tion (RefSec, MCHC, Washington, D.C.). Also, Peter Braesttup, 
"Destruction of Bridge Halted Communist Push at Dong Ha," The 
Washington Post, 26Apr72, p. 19 (Viernam Comment File), 

20. LtCol Andrew E. Andersen. Jr., Comments on draft ms, lDec89 
(Viernam Comment File); LtCol Andtew E. Andersen, Jr. intvw by 
FMFPac, 4May72, Tape 5040 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 

21. Gray comments. 

22. Turley, The Easter Offensive, p. 201. 

23. Kroesen comments. 

24. Turley intvw; Brookbank report. See also William R. Andcr- 
son, Bat-21 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Ptenrice-Hall, Inc., 1980). 

Mai Loc Evacuated 

25. Truong, Invasion, p. 30. 

26. FRAC/VNMCOps App B, Brig 258, pp. 9-11; Capr David S. 
Randall, Jr., memo, 18Apr72; SMA Evaluarion, Brig 258 Tab 
(MarAdvU File). 

27. LtCol Andrew D. DeBona, Commenrs on draft ms, 12Dec89; 
Maj Andrew D. DeBona intvw by Co! Gerald H Tutley, pp. 8-14 
(Viernam Comment File). 


Unless otherwise noted, marerial in rhis chapter is detived from 
MarAdvU ComdC, Apr72, May72; and FRAC/VNMCOps App A, 
Brig 147 and B, Brig 258 (MarAdvU File). 

The Fighring Continues 

1. MACV Nguyen Hue study, p. 6. 

2. CGFRAC msg ro ComUSMACV, 8Apr72 (Vietnam Comment 

3. MarAdvU Turnover Folder; Col Dorsey memo to BGcn Lanagan, 
12Apt72 (MarAdvU File). 

4. Turley intvw. 

5. Kroesen ms, p. 12. 

6. Col Donald L. Price, Comments on draft ms, 10Oct90 (Vicrnam 
Comment File). 

At Dong Ha 

7. RVN Ministry of Land Devetopmenr and Hamler Building, Emer- 
gency Reconstruction, War Victim Resettlement and Rehabilitation 
(Saigon, 1973), pp. 82-86. 

8. MarAdvU Turnover Folder, LtCol Gerald H. Turley memo to Com- 
NavForV, 6Apr72 (MarAdvU File). 

9- CGFRAC msg to ComUSMACV, 8Apt72 (Viernam Comment 

10. Ripley intvw, Maj Jim R. Joy memo to SMA, 3May72 (MarAdvU 

Developments in the West 

11. Maj Robert C, Cockell intvw, Apt72, Tape 5092; Capt Lawrence 

H. Livingston, et al., USNA presenration; Capt Allen D. Nettlc- 
ingham intvw, Tape 5085 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 

12. Price comments. 

13. Smock Itrs; Ripley intvw; Holger Jensen, Associated Press, Itr 
ro BGcn Thomas W Bowcn, USA, 19Apr72 (Viernam Comment 

14. Ripley intvw. 

The Fight for Pedro 

15- Price commenrs. 

16. Maj William R. Warren inrvw, HApr72, Tape 5095; Warren, 
et al., USNA presentation; and Capr William D. Wischmeycr intvw, 
HApr72, Tape 5094 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 
17 Maj Lawrence H. Livingston Silver Star award citation (RefSec, 
MCHC, Washington, DC ). 

18. CGFRAC msg to ComUSMACV, l3Apr72 (Vietnam Comment 

Bright Lights 

19. Andersen comments; CHECO 72, Invasion, p. 22. 

20. Andersen commenrs. 

21. Maj Glen Golden intvw, 3Jul75, Tape 6026 (Oral HistColl, 
MCHC); Sub Unit One memo ro CMC, 12Nov72; LrCol George 
E. Jones, Comments on draft ms, 10Jan90 (Viernam Commcnr File). 

22. MarAdvU ComdC, May72. 

23. Kroesen ms, p. 10; Kroesen comments. 

The NVA Mount a Third Attack in MR J 

24. Kroesen ms, p. 14, 

25 MarAdvU ComdC, May72. 


Unless otherwise nored, material in this chapter is derived from; 
MarAdvU ComdC, May72, and MarAdvU HistSum72. 

Drive from the Wfest 

I. SMA Evaluarion, Brig 147 Tab, p. 16, Maj Jim R. Joy memo. 



3May72 (MarAdvU File); Col Charles J. Goode and LtCol Marshall 
R. Wells intvw, 19jan84 {Vietnam Comment File). 

2. MarAdvU HistSum, May72. 

3. Maj Thomas E. Gnibus intvw, Jul72, Tape 5087 (Oral HistColl, 

4. Wagner report (Viernam Comment File). 

5. Maj Michael J. Hatcher, USA, Comments of Advisor, 
8Apr-2May72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

6. Ibid. 

7. LCdr Francis C. Brown, USN, Comments on draft ms, 24May90; 
"Vietnam Heroism Earns Corpsman a Silver Star," Hawaii Marine, 
23Mar73, p. 1. 

8. Wagner report, pp. 12-14; Truong, Invasion, pp. 41-44; Kroesen 
ms, pp. 15-16; and Metcalf intvw, pp. 21-23. 

9. Turley intvw. 

10. Price comments. 

Confusion at Quang Tri 

11. Metcalf intvw, p. 8. 

12. Kroesen comments; Kroesen ms, p. 17; Metcalf intvw; Brook- 
bank report, p. 20. 

13. MarAdvU ComdC, May72. 

14. Gray comments. 

15. Turley intvw. 

16. SMA Evaluation, Brig 147 Tab, p. 14 

Team 155 and General Giai Depart 

17. Maj Glen Golden inrvw, 3Jul75, Tape 6026 (Oral HistColl, 
MCHC); LtCol Glen Golden, Comments on draft ms, 12Dec89 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

18. CG3dARVNDiv msg to 3d ARVN Div. 30May72 (Wagner 

19. Kroesen comments. 

20. MajGen Kroesen msg to Gen Abrams, 2May72 (Vietnam Com- 
ment File). 

21. Ibid. 

22. Metcalf intvw, p. 9; Kroesen ms, p. 19; Joy, op. cit., p. 17. 

23. Joy, op. cit., pp. 11-12. 

24. Ltr to Col James T. Breckinridge, 26May72 (Vietnam Comment 

25. Brookbank report, pp. 20-21. 

26. Metcalf intvw, p. 14; Goldern comments. 

VNMC Brigade 147 on its Own 

27. RVN Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tie Communist Policy of Terror 
(Saigon, 1972), pp. 41-42; See also RVN Ministry of Information, 
la Route De L'Horreur (Saigon, 1972). 

28. Maj Anthony P. Shepard, Comments on draft ms, HJan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

29. Philip comments. 

30. DeBona comments. 

31. SMA Evaluation, Brig 369 Tab, Maj William T. Sweeney memo, 
8May72 (MarAdvU File). 

32. Sheridan comments. 

33. Sheridan comments; Price comments. 

34. Joy, op. cit., pp 19-23; SMA Evaluation, Brig 147 Tab, 
pp. 20-21. 

35- Maj Robert F. Sheridan, et al., USNA presentation; 
VNMC/FRACOpns, App C, Brig 369, p. 1. 

36. Price comments; Sheridan comments. 

37. Sheridan comments. 

The Ceasefire Campaign 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from: 
MarAdvU HistSum72; MarAdvU ComdC, May72, Jun72; MarAdvU 
G3 TOC Dury Log, lMay72-20jun72 (MarAdvU File); Huong, In- 
vasion; and FMFPac MarOpsSEA. 

Holding the My Chanh Line 

1. LtCol Gray memo to BGen Lanagan, 4May72 (Vietnam Com- 
ment File). 

2. SMA Evaluation, Logistics Tab, SMA ltr to FRAC, 8May72, 
"VNMC Confirmed Losses, 3May72" (MarAdvU File); MajGen 
Kroesen msg to Gen Abrams drd 2May72 (Vietnam Gommenr File). 

Fleet Marine Force Support 

3. BGen William H. Lanagan, Jr., intvw, lMay72, Tape 5036 (Oral- 
HistColl, MCHC). 

4. Sub Unit One IstANGLICO ComdC, May72; Sub Unit One 
memo, 26Jul72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

5. BGen Lanagan memo to MACV C/S, 5May72 (Vietnam Com- 
ment File). 

Truong Takes Charge 

6. Truong, Invasion, p. 48; Kroesen comments. 

7. Truong, Invasion, pp. 48-57; LtGen Le Nguyen Khang intvw, 
30Sept75 (Oral HistColl, MCHC, Washington, D.C.); 
FRAC/VNMCOps, App C, VNMC Div, pp. 1-2. 

The Vietnamese Marine Division 

8. MarAdvU ComdC, May72, End 12. 

9. SMA debrief, pp. 16-17; Operational Communications Bolder, 
Tab 2, Capt Thomas Zalewski memo, 8Jan73 (MarAdvU File); 
MarAdvU Turnover Bolder, Status of Amphibious Support Battal- 
ion During Current Operations, 220ct72 (MarAdvU File). 

10. FRAC IntSum 125-72, 3May72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

11. Capt Allen D. Nettleingham intvw, HJun72, Tape 5085 (Oral 
HistColl, MCHC). 

12. MarAdvU Turnover Bolder, Col Joshua W. Dorsey III Summary 
of Action, 26Feb73 (MarAdvU File). 

13. MarAdvU ComdC, May72; Philip comments. 

The Marines Attack 

14. MajGen Howard H. Cooksey, USA, Senior Officer Debriefing 
Report, 25jan73, p. 5, hereafter Cooksey debrief (Vietnam Com- 
ment File); Huong, Invasion, pp, 56-60. 

15. Dorsey, op. cit. 

16. Maj Donaid C. Brodie, Comments on draft ms, 5Feb90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 



17. Brodie comments. 

18. LrCol David J. Moore, Comments on draft ms, 12Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

19. Col Sumner A. Vale, Comments on dtaft ms, lljan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

20. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-14 to 2-16; CNA MarActySEA, pp. 

21. Capt Richard W. Hodory Bronze Star award citation (RefSec, 
MCHC, Washington, DC). 

The Notth Vietnamese Reacr 

22. Maj Emmett S. Huff memo to SMA, 17May72 (MarAdvU File). 

23. LtCol Robert D. Shoptaw, Comments on draft ms, 27Dec90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

24. Turley intvw; Ordnance/Maintenance Turnover Folder, CWO 
James E. Hill Itr to USAIC, Fort Benning, Georgia, 23Aug72 
(MatAdvU File). 

Operation Song Than 6-72 

25. Boomer comments, 

26. SgtMaj Robert S. Ynacay, Comments on draft ms, 20Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Commenr File). 

27. IstLt Robert L. Williams intvw, Tape 5076; IstLt John T. Papa- 
rone intvw, Tape 5077 (Oral HiStColl, MCHC). 

28. Golden intvw. 

29. LtCol William R. Von Harren, Comments on draft ms, lljan90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

30 CG9thMAB debrief to CMC, 15Feb73, Tape 5035 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC. Washington, D.C.); 9thMAB PAO news release, 
24May72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

31. SMA Evaluation, Brig 147 Tab; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-16 
to 2-17; CNA MarAcrySEA, pp. 53-54. 

32. Sheridan comment; Philip comment. 

33. Nettleingham intvw. 

34. FRAC IntSum 152-72, 30May72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

In the Balance 

35. LtCol Duncan H.Jones intvw by LtCol Arnold, 21Aug75 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

36 Song Than 8-72 Folder; FRAC/VNMCOpns, App D, VNMC 
Div, pp. 1-2 (MarAdvU File), 

37. LrCol Peter S. Morosoff, "Coordinating Defensive Fire Support," 
Marine Corps Gazette, Jun87, pp. 19-20. 

38. Sub Unit One memo, 'Augmentation Personnel," 26Jul72; Gold- 
en intvw (Vietnam Comment File). 

39 Song Than 8A-72 Folder; FRAC/VNMCOpns, App D, Brig 147, 

pp. 3-5 (MarAdvU File). 

40. Covan. Ijul72 (MarAdvU Files). 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from: 
MarAdvU HistSum72; MarAdvU ComdC, Jul72, Aug72; MarAd- 
vU Daily OpSum Folder, Jul- Aug- Sep72; FMFPac MarOpsSEA; 
and LtCol Gerald H. Turley and Capt Marshall R. Wells, "Easter 
Invasion, 197 '2," Marine Corps Gazette, Mar73, pp. 18-29, hereafter 
Turley & Wells. 

Truong's Counreroffensive 

1. Truong, Invasion, p, 64, 

2. Truong, Invasion, pp. 64-66; Cooksey debrief, pp. 5-6 

3. Sub Unit One memo to CMC, 12Nov72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

4. Vale comments; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-1 to 3-3; CNA 
MarActySEA. pp. 51-52. 

5. Capt Stephen C. Fogleman intvw, 9Mar87 (Vietnam Comment 

6. Laurence W. Rush, Nici/es, Dimes, Rubberbands and Glue (New 
York: Carlton Press, 1979), p. 82. 

7. Maj Stephen G. Biddulph, Comments on draft ms, 2Nov89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File), 

8. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App D, VNMC Div, pp, 1-2 (MarAdvU File). 

9. Shepard commenrs. 

The Battle for Quang Tri City 

10. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App E, VNMC Div, pp. 1-2; Turley & Wells, 
p. 28. 

11. Turley intvw; 9thMAB debrief. 

12. Cpl Steven C. Lively debrief, Kue Army Hospital, OkinawaJul72; 
LtCol Michael L, Powell, Comments on draft ms, 14Jun90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

13. Turley intvw. 

14. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-1 to 3-6; Song Than 9-72 Folder, 
G-3 memo, 12Jul72 (MarAdvU File). 

15. Biddulph comments. 

16. 9thMAB debrief. 

17. Song Than 9-72 Folder (MarAdvU File). 

18. Biddulph comments. 

19. "Quang Tri: An Immortal Epic," Vietnam, No. 172, 1972, pp. 

20. Truong, Invasion, p. 67. 

21. LtGen Howard H. Cooksey, Comments on draft ms, 9Jan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

22. Song Than 9-72 Folder, G-3 Advisor's Planning Guidance in 
Preparation for the Recapture of Quang Tri City, SVN, 25Jul72; 
FRAC/VNMCOpns, App E, VNMC Div, Brig 147 Tab, p. 4 
(MarAdvU File) 

23. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App E, VNMC Div, Brig 258 Tab, p. 4 
(MarAdvU File). 

24. MACV Nguyen Hue study, pp. 15-16 

25. FRAC IntSum 228-72, 14Aug72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

26. LtCol Richard B. Rothwell, "Leadership and Tactical Reflections 
on the Battle for Quang Tri," Marine Corps Gazette, Sept79, p. 39- 

27. LtCol George E. Jones, Comments on draft ms, 4Jan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

28. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App F, VNMC Div, Brig 258 Tab, pp. 1-2 
(MarAdvU File). 

29. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App F, VNMC Div, Brig 258 Tab, p, 2 
(MarAdvU File). 

Taking the Citadel 

30. FRAC/VNMCOps, App F, VNMC Div, Charts A and B; also 
MatAdvU HistSum72, App B, C, D. 

31. Turley & Wells, p. 28. 

The Final Assault 

32. JthMAB debrief. 



33- Col Robert W. Kirby, Comments on draft ms, 20Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

34. Col Charles T. Williamson, Comments on draft ms, l3Mar90; 
FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 4-4 to 4-9; CNA MarActySEA, pp. 51-52. 

35. "QuangTri: An Immortal Epic," Vietnam, No. 172, 1972, pp. 

36. CGFRAC ltr to ComUSMACV dtd I0ct72 (MarAdvU File). 

37. FRAC/VNMCOpns, App G, VNMC Div, p. 2; SMA debricf. 

38. SMA debrief; Cooksey debrief, pp. 9-10. 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from: 
MarAdvU HistSum72; MarAdvU ComdC, Oct- Nov- Dec72, MarAd- 
vU Daily OpSum Folder, Oct- Nov- Dec72,Jan73; Sub Unit One 
ComdC, Oct- Nov- Dcc72; and FMFPac MarOpsSEA. 


1. FRAC/VNMCOpns App G, VNMC Div; Covan, lOct72 
(MarAdvU Files). 

2. Sub Unit One memo ro CMC, 12Nov72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

3. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard M. 
Nixon, 1972 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Serv- 
ice, 1974), pp. 583-587; FRAC IntSum 266-72, 2lScpt72; Turlcy 

4. MarAdvU ComdC, Oct72. 

Push to the North 

5. Philip intvw. 


6. Daily OpSum Folder, Nov72 (MarAdvU File). 

The Eleventh Hour 

7. Ibid. 

8. Turley intvw. 

9. Ibid. 

10. MarAdvU Turnover Folder; SMA memo, 26Dec72; Daily Op- 
Sum Folder, Dec72 (MarAdvU File). 

11. Sub Unit One ComdC, Dec72; Jones comments. 

12. 9thMAB debrief. 

13. LtCol Gerald H. Turley, "Time of Change in Modern Warfare," 
Marine Corps Gazette, Dcc74, pp. 18-19. 

14 Turley intvw. 


15. SMA msg to FRAC, 30jan73 (MarAdvU File). 

16. Daily OpSum Folder, Jan7 3 (MarAdvU File). 

17. Turley comments. 

18. SMA msg to FRAC, lFcb73 (MarAdvU File). 

The Marines Were There 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from: 
FMFPac MarOpsSEA; SeventhFlt ComdHist72; Marine Corps Oper- 

ations and Analysis Group, "Documentation and Analysis of U.S. 
Marine Corps Activity in Southeast Asia," ONR study CNA 1016, 
dtd July 1973 (CNA, Washington, D.C.), hereafter CNA MarAc- 
tySEA; and 9thMAB ComdC, Apr-Dec72. See also MajGen Ed- 
ward J. Miller and RAdm Wycliffe D. Toole, Jr., "Amphibious Forces: 
The Turning Point," Naval Institute Proceedings, Nov74, pp. 26-32, 
hereafter Miller & Toole. 

9th MAB and the Naval Campaign 

1 FMFPac MarOpsSea, pp. 1-16 to 1-17. 

2. LtCol William R. Von Harten, Comments on draft ms, lljan90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

3. LtGen Louis Mctzgcr, Comments on draft ms, 8Dec89 (Vietnam 
Comment File). 

4. For specific composition sec FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-7 to 2-11, 
3-10 to 3-12, 4-3, 5-2; CNA MarActySEA, pp. 29-37. 

5. "A Brief History of rhe 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade," 28Sep78; 
"Lineage of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade," 22May85 (Rcf- 
Sec, MCHC, Washington, DC ). 

6. Col James L. Shanahan, Comments on draft ms, 8jan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

7. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 58-59. 

8. LtGen EdwardJ. Miller intvw, 6Feb86 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 

Support to the Fleet 

9. Metzger comments. 

10. CMC ltr, Documentation and Analysis of U.S. Marine Corps 
Activity in Southeast Asia, lApr-3lJul72, 28Feb74 (CNA 


11. In 1972, the JCS defined special operations as supporting or 
secondary operations for which no single service was assigned primary 

12. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-U to 2-13, CNA MarActySEA, p. 52. 

13. Von Harten comments. 

Search and Rescue 

14. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 5, 13, 20, 50. 

15. Powell comments. 

16. Rush, op. dt., pp. 116-117. 

NGF Airborne Spotters, Fast and Slow 

17. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 17-18; Maj Melson notes as Asst. S-3, 
BLT 1/9 (Vietnam Comment File). 

Raids and Demonstrations 

18. LtGen William K.Jones, Comments on draft ms, 22Nov89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File); Dr. Graham A. Cosmas and LtCol Terrence 
P. Murray, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1970-1971 (Washington, D.C.: 
Hist&MusDiv, HQMC, 1986), pp. 386-387. 

19- Edwin W, Besch, "Amphibious Operation at Vinh," Marine Corps 
Gazette. Dec82, pp. 54-60; Miller & Toole, pp. 27-32. 

20. CNA MarActySEA, p. 64. 

21. Shanahan comments. 



22. CNA MarAcrySEA, p. 51. 

23. Beng, op cit. 

24. MACV ComdHist72-73, pp. F-56 to F-60. 

Redeyes at Sea 

25. Truong, Invasion, p. 48. 
2(5. Millet intvw. 

27. Maj Melson Itt to the Marine Corps Gazette, Dec82, pp. 10-11. 

28. Jones comments; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 51, 61; CNA 
MarActySEA, p. 2-13. 

Support co Military Region 1 

29. Miller & Toole, p. 28. 

30. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, The Eastet Offen- 
sive Symposium, 4Dec86 (Oral HistColl, MCHC, Washington, DC ), 
hereafter CSC symposium. 

Fleet Support Continues 

31. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-28 to 2-29, 3-24, 4-2; CNA 
MarActySEA, pp. 109-111. 

32. MCCC, Status of Forces, 23May72. 

33. CNA MarActySEA, p. 55. 

34. Gen Robert E. Cushman, Jr. intvw, lNov-9Dec 1982 (Oral Hist- 
Coll, MCHC). 

35. Moore comments. 

Across the Beach, the Lam Son Landings 

36. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-1 to 3-4; RVNAF Official Order 
Number 042/TTM/CL/NQ, 14Apr73 (JGS Archives Center). 

37. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-8 to 3-9- 

38. Williamson comments. 

39. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-9 to 3-10, 4-1 to 4-2. CNA 
MarActySEA, pp. 119-120. 

40. Kirby comments. 

Hirnaway at Quang Tri 

41. ComSeventhFlt msg to SevenrhFIt, 13Apr72 (Vietnam Com- 
ment File). 

42. CMC msg to ALMAR/54, 2Jun72 (Vietnam Comment File). 


Unless otherwise noted material in this chapter is derived from: 
FMFPac MarOpsSEA; CNA MarActySEA; Seventh Air Force Com- 
mand Histories 1972 and 1973, hereaftet SeventhAF ComdHist; 
1st MAW AAR on TF Delta, 6Jan75, hereafter TFD AAR; Task Force 
Delta Command Brief, 17jun73, hereafter TFD Brief; MAG-12 and 
15 ComdC, Apr-Dec72; and Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comp- 
troller), U.S. Aircraft Losses in SEA, Hostile Action, dtd 170ct73, 
hereaftet OSAD(C) AirLoss. See also LtCol John J. Lane, Jr., Com- 
mand and Control and Communications Structures in Southeast 
Asia, (Maxwell AFB, Air University, 1981); Gen William W. Momyer, 
The Vietnamese Air Force, 1951-1975, Monograph 4 (Washington, 
D C: Office of Air Force History, 1975); BGen James R. McCarthy 

and LtCol Geotge B. Allison, Linebacker II: The View From the 
Rock, Monograph 8 (Washington, DC: Office of Air Force Histo- 
ry, 1979); Carl Berger, ed., The United States Arr Force in Southeast 
Asia, (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1977); and 
USAF, Air War-Vietnam, (New York: Arno Press, 1978). 

The Storm Bteaks — Marine Ait Responds 

1. MCCC, Status of Forces, 30Mar72. See also SeventhAF, 'The USAF 
Response to the Spring 1972 Offensive: Situation & Redeployment," 
Project CHECO teport, 10Oct72, hereafter CHECO Redeployment. 

2. Col Richard D. Revie, Comments on draft ms, 20Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

3. Metzget comments; MajGen Leslie E. Brown, "1st Marine Air- 
craft Wing Achievements and Milestones," 8Apt76, pp, 1-2, 7, here- 
after Brown (Vietnam Comment File). LtCol Cuttis G. Arnold, "1st 
Marine Air Wing Supports Operations in Vietnam," hereafter Ar- 
nold (ms, MCHC, Washington, D.C., 1976), p. 2; Col Albert R 
Pytko, 'An Epoch of Need," Marine Corps Gazette, May73, pp. 

Support to the Ait Force, MAG-15 Operations 

4. ComSeventhFlt msg to CGlstMAW, 6Apr72 (Vietnam Comment 

5. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 2-19 to 2-20; Brown, pp. 1-2. 

6. FRAC Intsum 125-72, 3May72 (Vietnam Comment Files). 

7. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 109-111; AFSpComCen msg to CinCPac, 
5Sep72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

8. MAG-15 ComdC, Jul72, p. 6. 

9. MCCC, Climatology Study, 18Nov70. 

10. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-25, 3-20; CNA MarActySEA, pp. 

11. LtGen Leslie E. Brown, Comments on draft ms, HFeb90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

12. CNA MarActySEA, p. 94. 

13. LtCol Roger P. Fox, Air Base Defense in the Repubtic of Viet- 
nam, 1961-1973, (Washington, DC : Office of Air Force History, 
1979), p. 201, hereafter Base Defense. See also MACWEACSJ2, 
"VC/NVA Rocket Artillery," 1967 (PersPapers, MCHC, Washington, 

14. Arnold, p. 5. 

15. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 85-91; this covers the sortie rate build- 
up in detail. 

16. IstMAW SitRpt, 20May72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

17. TFD AAR, pp. 1-1 to 1-3. 

18. 3/9 ComdC, Jun72, p. 5; Dec72, pp. 3-4; andjun73, p. 3. 

Support to the Air Force, MAG-12 Operations 

19. Ill MAF msg to IstMAW, 12May72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

20. Brown comments. 

21. Ibid. 

22. SeventhAF, "The Battle fot An Loc, 5 April-26June 1972," Project 
CHECO report, 31jan73, hereafter CHECO AnLoc. 

23. LrCol Willis E. Wilson, Jr., Comments on draft ms, 29Nov89 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

24. Col Dean C. Macho intvw, Apt73 (Oral HistColl, MCHC, 
Washington, DC); Brown, p. 5. 

25. MAG-12 ComdC, Dec72, p. 4. 

26. Brown comments; CHECO AnLoc, pp. 53-54. 



27. "Road 13-Road of Death," Vietnam No. 172, 1972, pp. 6-7. 

28. MAG-12 ComdC, Nov72, p. 5. 

29. Macho intvw. 

30. Brown, p. 5. 

31. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 3-18. 

32. MAG-12 ComdC, Dcc72, Tab A-12. 

33. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 3-19. 

34. MAG-12 ComdC, Jan73, p 7. 

35. MAG-12 ComdC, Dec72, p. 6; Jan73, p. 7. 

36. Maj Angelo M. Inglisa, Comments on the draft ms, 29Nov89 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

37. LtCol Michael S. Kelly, Comments on draft ms, 2Apr90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

38. Kelly comments. 

39. MAG-12 ComdC, Dec72, p. 9. 

40. MAG-12 ComdC, Sept72, pp. 4-5. 

41. HQMC Report of Casualty No. 991-72. 

42. Arnold, p. 10. 

43. MAG-12 ComdC, Sep72, p. 4. 

44. MAG-12 ComdC. Jan73. p. 8; OSAD(C) AirLoss, p. 4. 

Task Force Delta 

45. Marine Aircraft Group 12 Navy Unit Commendation citation 
(RefSec, MCHC, Washington, D.C.). 

46. Arnold, p. 15. 

47. Brown, p. 3; TFD AAR, p. 1-3. 

48. CNA MarActySEA, p. 80. 

49. TFD Brief, Tab A, Tab B (Vietnam Comment File). 

50. Brown comments. 

51. TFD AAR, p. 1-7. 

52. Brown comments. 

53. LtCol James C. Brown, Comments on the draft ms, 3jan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

54. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 3-18. 

55. CNA MarActySEA, p. .93. 

56. FMFPac MarOpsSea, p. 3-18; TFD Brief, Tab H, Operations. 

57. MABS-15 ComdC, Jan73. 

The Rose Garden Grows 

58. LtCol John M. Campaiielli, Comments on draft ms, 5Jan90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

59. Air War-Vietnam, op cit., pp. 203-204; Also see Karl J. Eschman, 
Linebacker (New York: Ivy Books, 1989); Mark Clodfeltet, The Limits 
of Airpower (New York: The Free Press, 1989). 

60. Brown comments. 

61. IstLt Ronald S. Mullisen, IstLtGaryW. Dolgin, and lstlt Jerry 
D. Owen, eds., Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 533 (Marce- 
line. Mo.: Walswonh Publishing Company, 1972), p. 9- 

62. Ibid., p. 55. 

63- FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 4-lfi. 

64. MAG-15 ComdC, Aug72, p. 2. 

65. Ibid. 

66. Maj George R. Dunham intvw, 16Jun87 (Vietnam Comment 

67. Col Kent C. Bateman, Comments on draft ms, 12Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

68. MAG-15 ComdC, Nov72, p. 3. 

69. TFD Brief, Tab H, Operations. 

70. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 5-8. 

71. TFD AAR, pp. 1-12 to 1-15. 

72. Task Force Delta Navy Unit Commendation citation (RefSec, 
MCHC, Washington, D.C.). 

73. VAdm James B. Stockdale, A Vietnam Experience (Stanford: 
Hoover Press, 1984), p. 145. 

74. Democratic Republic of Vietnam, "The Late December 1972 
Blitz on North Vietnam," special communique, 3Dec72 (Hanoi, 
1973), p. 56 (Vietnam Comment File). 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from 
FMFPac MarOpsSEA, SeventhFlt ComdHist72, and CNA MarAc- 
tySEA See also Clarke Van Fleet, "Year of Action-1972," Naval Avi- 
ation News, Feb73, pp. 6-25, hereafter Van Fleet; VAdm Malcolm 
W. Cagle, "Task Force 77 in Action Off Vietnam," Naval Review 
1972, May72, pp. 66-109; Edward J. Marolda and George W. Pryce 
III, A Short History of the United States Navy and the Southeast 
Asian Conflict (Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1984). 

Support to the Navy: Task Force 77 

1. SeventhFlt ComdHist72, p. 4. Also Van Fleet, passim. 

All-Weather Attack 

2. VMA(AW)-224 ComdC, Jul72, p. 4. 

3. Xuan Vu, quoted by David Chanoff and Doan Van Toi, ed.. Por- 
trait of the Enemy (New York: Random House, 1986), p. 184. 

4. CW02 Edward Scheiner, ed., The Coral Scene (Picshel Yearbooks, 
Inc., 1972), p. 73. 

5. VMA(AW)-224 ComdC, Jul72, p. 4. 

6. Nixon, op. cit., pp. 583-587. 

7. SeventhFlt ComdHist72, p. 10; Van Fleet, p. 17. 

8. FMFPac MatOpsSEA, p. 3-22; Cdr Ulrik Luckow, "Victory Over 
Ignorance and Fear: The U S Minelaying Attack on North Viet- 
nam," Naval War College Review, Jan-Feb82, pp. 17-27; USS Coral 
Sea and Carrier Wing 15 Navy Unit Commendation citation (Ref- 
Sec, MCHC, Washington, D.C.). 

More Support to the Navy— VMCJ 

9. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 74-75. 

10. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 2-21; ComNavAirLant msg to CVW-3, 

11. MCCC, Chronology, 18May72, p. 5; Brown, pp. 9-10. 

12. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 2-21 

13. Brown, p. 9, 

14. Indochina Chronology, Oct-Dec87, p.19- 

15. Brown, p. 10. 

16. FMFPac, MarOpsSEA, p. 6-9. 

Snakes at Sea 

17. HMA-369 ComdC, Dec72, p. 15; LtGen Louis Metzget inrvw 
by FMFPac, Jan73, Tape 5060 (Oral HistColl, MCHC). 

18. Metzger intvw. 

19 CNA MarActySEA, p. 17; Brown, pp 6-7. Also Mike Verier, 
"Marhuk," Aviation News, 18-31Mar88, pp. 1011-1017, and Kenneth 



P. Werrell, "MARHUK: Marine Helicopters Over North Vietnam" 
(ms, Radford College, 29May87). 

20. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-26 to 3-27; HMA-369 ComdC. 
Jun72, pp. 4-6. 

21. CTG79.8/HMA-369 AAR, 29Dec72, p. 2. 

22. Brown, pp. 6-7; FMFPac, MarOpsSEA, pp. 3-22 to 3-24. 

23. Maj David L. Ross, Comments on draft ms, 9Jan90 (Vietnam 
Comment File); CTG79.8/HMA-369 AAR, p. 3. 

24. CTG79 8/ HMA-369 AAR, p. 5; Ross comments. 

25. J02 Julius L, Evans, "Gunner, One of a Few Good Men," Naval 
Aviation News, Jul-Aug82, p.24. 

26. FMFPac, MarOpsSEA, p. 4-19. 

27. CNA MarAcrySEA, p. 116. 

28. HMA-369 Navy Unit Commendation citation (RefSec, MCHC, 
Washington, DC). 

29. HMA-369 ComdC, Dec72, p. 7. 

Fighters Over the North 

30. VMFA-333 ComdC, Jun72, p. 4. 

31. VMFA-333 ComdC, Dec72, pp. 3-5. 

32. Coljohn D, Cummings, Comments on draft ms, HJan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

33. VMFA-333 ComdC, Dec72, pp. 3-4; Cummings comments. Also 
"Marine Mig Kill," transcript of ICS conversation (Vietnam Com- 
ment File); LtCol John Cummings Itr to Mr. Michael O'Connor dtd 
25Jun84 (RefSec, MCHC, Washington, DC); Capt Joseph Boyle, 
ed., WestFac 72-7} (Norfolk: Tiffany Publishing Co., 1973), p. 77. 

34. SeventhFIt ComdHist72, pp. 3-5, 8-10. 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is derived from 
MajGen Leslie E Brown, "1st Marine Aircraft Wing Achievements 
and Milestones," dtd 8Apr76; MajGen Joseph C. Fegan, Jr., inrvw 
dtd 8jan73, Tape 5062 (Oral HistColl, MCHC, Washington, DC); 
FMFPac, "Analysis of Human Affairs Poll," Jul72, hereafter FMFPac 
Human Affairs; and HQMC, "Report on Marine Corps Manpower 
Quality and Ebrce Structure," 31Dec75, hereafter HQMC Manpower 
study. See also Henry I. Shaw, Jr., and Ralph W. Donnelly, Blacks 
in the Marine Corps (Washington, D.C.: Hisr&MusDiv, HQMC, 
1975), hereafter Shaw and Donnelly; The BDM Corporation, A 
Study of the Strategic Lessons Learned in Vietnam, 8 vols (McLean, 
Va.: 1980), Vol. 6, "The Soldier." 

Leadership, Morale, and Readiness 

1. Col Robert D Heinl, Jr., "The Collapse of the Armed Forces," 
Armed Forces Journal, 7Jun71, p. 31. 

2. Metzger comments. 

3. Bateman comments. 

4. Dr. V. Keith Fleming, Jr., Comments on draft ms, 15Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

5. Dr. Allan R. Millet, Comments on draft ms, 21Dec89 (Vietnam 
Comment File). 

6. HQMC Manpower study, pp. 4, 13-14; CMC Reference Notebook 
1973, Tab II-H-6, "Deserters and Absentees"; CMC Reference Note- 
book 1974, Tab II-H-3, "Courts-Martial During Second Half of 
Calendar Year 1973." 

7. Fegan intvw; See also Heinl, op. cit., pp. 30-37 and Dr. Thomas 
C. Bond, "Fragging- A Study," Army, Apr77, pp. 45-47. 

8. FMFPac Human Affairs, p. iv. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Bernard C. Nalty and LtCol Ralph F. Moody, A Brief History 
of U.S. Marine Corps Officer Procurement 1775-1969 (Washington, 
DC: Hist&MusDiv, HQMC, 1970), pp. 20-25. 

11. Jones comments, 

12. HQMC(AP12), "USMC Statistical Report on Military Person- 
nel Strength and Turnover by Race," 30Sept71, Tables I, II, and III 
(RefSec, MCHC, Washington, DC); HQMC(AOlK), "Summary of 
Significant Racial Incidents at Marine Corps Installations, 
Aug68-Nov71" (RefSec, MCHC, Washington, DC); CMC Refer- 
ence Notebook 1974, Tab 1I-H-9, "Summary of Significant Racial 
Incidents at Marine Corps Installations"; Shaw and Donnelly, pp. 
69-83; Brown comments; Fegan inrvw. 

13- Fogleman comments. 

14. LtCol Mark B. Pizzo, Comments on draft ms, l3Apr90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

15. HQMC Manpower study, p. 3. 

16. RAdm Wydiffe D. Toole, Jr., Comments on draft ms, 29Nov89 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

17. "D Company Has formula For Morale," Okinawa Marine, I4jul72 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

18. Ynacay comments. 

19. LtCol Eddie R. Maag, Comments on draft ms, 28Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

20. LtCol Gary D, Solis, Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Tri- 
al by Fire (Washington, DC: Hist&MusDiv, HQMC, 1989), pp. 
231-244; Cosmas and Murray, op. cit., pp. 344-369. 

21. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 
Inc.), 1952, p. 85. 

22. Brown comments. 

23. CNA MatActySEA, pp. 57-58. 

24. Rush, op. cit., p. 71. 

Beans, Bullets, and AvGas: Logistics 

Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is derived from 
FMFPac MarOpsSEA and CNA MarActySEA. 

25. Col Stanley G. Pratt comment, CSC symposium; SMA Hist- 
Sum 1972, pp. 4-5. 

26. Brown, pp. 10-11. 

27. Miller comment. 

28. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-29 to 2-30; CNA MarActySEA, pp. 
16, 57-58. 

29. TFD Brief, Tab H, Operations. 

30. CNA MarActySEA, p. 78. 

31. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 2-29 to 2-31. 

32. CNA MarActySEA, p. 93. 

33. USAF Tactical Air Command Project 3782, "Bare Base Mobili- 
ty"; CNA MarActySEA, pp. 14, 95-101. 

34. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 3-27. 

35. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 99-101. 

36. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 93-94. 

Thunder from the Sea, Fire from the Sky 

Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is from Opera- 
tions Analysis Group, "Defense of Hue and Quang Tri City, The 



1972 NVN Invasion of MR-1," ONfi. study CNS 103 5, May74, here- 
after CNA Defense of Hue; and CHECO Invasion 72. 

37. Price comments. 

38. Gray memo; CNA Defense of Hue, pp. 1-2. 

39. MarAdvU Turnover Folder, Artillery advisor memo to ASMA, 
21Mar72; SMA memo to CGFRAC, 23Jan73 (MarAdvU File). 

40. CNA MarActySEA, pp. 62ff, 

41. Gray comments; Ripley intvw; CNA MarActySEA, p. 14. 

42. Jones comments; MarAdvU Turnover Rider, SMA memo, 
26TJec72, (MarAdvU File). 

43 Nguyen Ngoc Hoang, television intvw by Morley Safer, 19Mai89, 
CBS "60 Minutes" (Vietnam Comment File). 

V&ir in the Ether 

Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is derived from 
IstRadBn ComdC, Mar72-Jan73, and UColJohn K. Hyan, Jr., Com- 
ments on draft ms, 10Aug88 (Vietnam Comment File). 

44. CNA MarOpsSea, pp 58-61. 

Reprise and Assessment 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from 
CincPac ComdHist73; MACV ComdHist73; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, 
SeventhFk ComdHist73; MarAdvU Files; and the Defense Attache 
Office Saigon, "History of the Defense Attache" (National Records 
Center, Suitland, Md.), hereafter DAOHist. 

The Final Act 

1. Metzger intvw and comments. 

2. Van Fleet, Aviation, p. 17 

3. DRVN, op. cit., Foteign Ministry statement, 29Dec72, p. 19. 

4. Office of the White House Secretary, "Agreement on Ending the 
War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam," 24Jan73, Articles 1 through 
23 and amended protocols, hereafter Peace Accords (Vietnam Com- 
ment File). 

5. SeventhFk ComdHist73, "Planning Decisions and Conclusions," 
p. 2. 

6. Besch comments. 

Opetation Countdown, 'On the land . . . ' 

7. Sub Unit One, 1st ANG1ICO Navy Unit Commendation cita- 
tion (RefSec, MCHC, Washington, DC). 

8. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 6-5. 

9. Sub Unit One ComdC, Feb73, p. 3. 

10. CMC msg to FMFPac, 9Feb73; MACV msg to FMFPac, 4Mar73; 
Jones comments. 

11. MarAdvU HistSum72, pp. 2-3; MarAdvU Phase Down Log, 
28Jan73-16Feb73; Daily OpSum Folder, Feb73 (MarAdvU File). 

12. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations and 

Logistics), Memo for the President, 17Nov72 (Vietnam Comment 

13 MarAdvU HistSum72, p. 4; Ordnance/Maintenace Folder, 
CW03 Bobby E. Dusekmemo, l6Feb73; MarAdvU Turnover Bolder, 
Narrative Evaluation of VNMC, 2dQtrFY73, pp 4-5 (MarAdvU File). 

14. DAOHist 2dCYQ73, pp. 78-83; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 5-16. 

15. Marine Advisory Unit Navy Unit Commendation citation (Ref- 
Sec, MCHC, Washington, D.C.). 

16. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 6-19. 

17. SMA After Action Report to ComNavForV, 27Mar88, hereafter 
SMA AAR, pp. 4-5 (MarAdvU File). 

18. SMA msg to ComNavForV, 13Mar73 (MarAdvU File); DAOHist, 
lstCYQ73, pp. 8-14; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 6-14 to 6-19 

19. DAOHist, lstCYQ73, p 80. 

20. DAOHist, lstCYQ73, p. 21. 

21. MajGen John E. Murray, Comments on draft ms, 3Feb90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

22. DAOHist, lstCYQ73, p. 1. 

Operation Countdown, '. . . and Sea' 

23. Williamson comments. 

24. 9thMAB ComdC, Jan73, p. 1. 

25. ComSeventhFlt msg to 9thMAB, 31Jan73 (Vietnam Comment 

26. 9thMAB ComdC, M>73, p. 3-1. 

27. Ibid. 

28. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 6-1 to 6-5; 9thMAB ComdC, Jan73, 
pp. 1-4. 

29. Col Ray A. Stephens, Comments on draft ms, 12Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

30. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 6-l4. 

31. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 5-15. 

32. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 6-20. 

Opetation Countdown, '. . . and Alt' 

33. Kenneth P. Werrell, "U.S. Marine Corps Aviation and North 
Vietnam," ms, 1989, p. 18 (Vietnam Comment File). 

34. New York Times, "U.S. Planes Bomb Da Nang by Mistake, 
Wounding 10," 8Jan73, pp. 1, 6. 

35. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 6-6 to 6-7; MAG-12 ComdC, Jun73, 
pp. 6-7. 

36. MAG-12 ComdC, Jun73, p. 6. 

37. Ibid. 

38. FMFPac MatOpsSEA, pp. 6-6 to 6-8; MAG-12 ComdC, Jan73, 
p. 7. 

39. MAG-12 ComdC, Jan73, pp. 6-9. 

40. MAG-12 ComdC, Jan73, pp. 4, 8-9; Jun73, p. 8. 

41. MAG-15 ComdC, Jun73, p. 5. 

42. TFD AAR, p, 1-15. 

43. Nguyen Khac Vien, ed., Indochina: The W2-73 Turning Point 
(Hanoi: Xunhasaba, 1974), p, 22. 


Unless otherwise noted, this chapter is based on HQMC(INTC), 
"Experience of POWs," study dtd 1973, hereafter POW study; 
UthCIT, "Camp location Study," 22Sept71, hereafter Camp study; 



Fourth Allied Prisoner of War Wing Debrief, l6Apr73. hereafter 
POW debrief; and HQMC(M), "US Marine Prisoners of War and 
Missing in Action Summary,'' 170ct72, hereafter POW summary. 
Additional material resides in the Judge Advocate Division files for 
specific prisoners and subjects, hereafter JAR Files. Operation 
Homecoming material is derived from JCS Hist73; CinCPac 
ComdHist73; Thirteenth Air Force Joint Homecoming Reception 
Center AAR, 6Jun73, hereafter ThirteentbAP AAR; III MAF Oper- 
ation Homecoming AAR, '5Apr73, hereafter 111MAF AAR, and Ma- 
rine Corps Operation Homecoming AAR, 25Jul73, hereafter HQMC 
AAR See also DOD, "Operation Homecoming," Commanders 
Digest, Mar73; and Berger, op. cit., pp. 321-339. See also the vari- 
ous hearings by rhe Subcommittee on National Securiry Policy and 
Scientific Developments of the House Committee on Foreign Af- 
fairs, 1971 through 1973. 

Combatants or Hostages? 

1. POW summary, p. 1. 

2. Communist "pointy-talkee" card captured in 1969 in MR 1 from 
an NVA medic; Maj Edward J. Wages, Comments on draft ms, 
20Nov90 (Vietnam Comment File). 

3. Defense Intelligence Agency, "Citizens and Dependents, Cap- 
tured, Missing, Detained or Voluntarily Remained in SEA," 10Nov79 
(RefSec, MCHC, Washington, D.C.); and POW summary. 

4. CMC Reference Notebooks 1971-1972, Tab III-H-7. "Information 
Concerning PW Mail." 

5. RAdm Horace B. Robertson, Jr., memo to SecNav, I6jul73 (JAR 
File); CMC Reference Notebooks 1971-1972, Tab IlI-H-7, "PW Treat- 
ment in North and South Vietnam"; "PW Statistics and Marines 
Who may be Assisting the Enemy"; HQMC(INTC) memo, l4Mar79, 
"Comment and Report of American Collaborators and Deserters 
in South Vietnam," hereafter INTC comments. Also Bernard B. Fall, 
"Communist POW Treatment in Indochina" (Norfolk: Composite 
Interrogation Translation Team, FMFLant), Jan6l; and LCdrJohn 
M. McGrath, Prisoner of War (Annapolis, Naval Institute Press, 
1975), for conditions in captivity. 

6. POW study, pp. H-19 to H-19f. 

7. Maj Jose J. Anzaldua intvw by MCAS New River Public Affairs 
Office, Marines, Sep85, pp. 6-9. 

8. Maj Bruce R. Archer intvw by MCDEC Public Affairs Office, 
12Mar87 (Vietnam Comment File). 

9. Maj Paul J. Montague, Comments on draft ms, l6Nov89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

10. Douglas K. Ramsey Itrto Gen Robert E. Cushmanjr., 3Apr73, 
hereafter Ramsey Itr, p. 3, in Capt Donald G. Cook biographic file 
(RefSec, MCHC, Washington, DC). 

11. Anzaldua intvw. 

12. POW study, pp. H22 to H24; Also, Frank Bormann, "U.S. 
Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia," Congressional Record, 22Sep70, 
p. H9019. 

13. LCdr William Berg, "Injuries and Illnesses of Vietnam War 
POWs: Marine POWs," Military Medicine, Sep77, pp. 678-80. 

14. POW study, Tab-Wing Policies. 

15. LtCol Harlan P. Chapman, Comments on draft ms, I8jan90 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

16. POW study, Tab-SRO Policy Son Tay. 

17. LtCol Orson G. Swindle, Comments on draft ms, 15Nov89; POW 
debrief, passim; VAdm James B. Stockdale, Comments on draft ms, 
28Jan89 (Vietnam Comment File). 

18. "I heard the tapes he made ..." (Chapman comments). 

19. Col Edison W. Miller, Comments on draft ms, 21jan90 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

20. POW study, p. Sl4. 

21. Hank Whirtemore, "Bear Can Be Your Best Friend," Parade Maga- 
zine, 19Apr85, p. 5. 

22. Miller comments. 

23. RAdm Horace B. Robertson, Jr. memo to SecNav, I6jul73 (JAR 
File); LtCol Edson W. Miller biographical file and POW subject files 
(RefSec, MCHC, Washington, D.C.). 

24. Anzaldua intvw, p. 8. 

Egress Recap and Other Contingencies 

25. MajGen LeroyJ. Manor Irr to Depury Chief of Staff, Plans and 
Policies, HQMC, 120ct72 (Vietnam Comment File). See also Ben- 
jamin F. Schemmer, The Raid (New York: Harper & Row, Publish- 
ers, 1976), pp. 261-263. 

26. HQMC AAR, p. 2. 

27. CinCPacInst 3461.1C, 3Aug72 and ThirteenthAF OPIan Egress 
Recap, lDec72. 

28. ThirteenthAF AAR, pp. 1-25 for background and conduct, pp. 
26-45 for conclusions. 

29. The White House, "Fact Sheet: International Commission of 
Control and Supervision," 24Jan73 (Vietnam Comment File). 

30. ThirteenthAF AAR, p. 7. 

31. Col John W. Clayborne, Comments on draft ms, 29Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

32. Anzaldua intvw. 

33. JCS msg to CinCPac, 25Jan73 (Vietnam Comment File). 

34. JCS Hist73, pp 714, 721. 

35. Peace Accords, Article 8, p. 3. 

36. JCS Hist73, p. 723. 

Operation Homecoming 

37. Clayborne comments. 

38. POW study, Tab-Go Home Guidance. 

39. ThirteenthAF AAR, pp. 15-21, 15-25. 

40. LtCol William C. Howey, Comments on draft ms, 17Nov89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

41. Howey comments, 

42. Clayborne comments. 

43. ThirteenthAF AAR, p. 13. 

44. IIIMAF AAR, p. 29 

45. Clayborne comments. 

46. ThirteenthAF AAR, p. 15-45. 

47. Howey comments. 

48. Chapman comments. 

49. IIIMAF AAR, p. 25, 

50. CMC Itr to Casualty Assistance Call Officers, 6Dec72. 

Welcome Home Marine 

51. Capt William E. Thomas, Jr., Comments on draft ms, 20Dec89; 
MCB Camp Pendleton, "Historical Documentation of Phase 111 
Prisoner of War Repatriation Activities," 5Jun73, in HQMC AAR 
(Vietnam Comment File), 

52. Operation Homecoming (Public Affairs), 20Apr73, in HQMC 

53. Capt Donald G. Cook biographical file (RefSec, MCHC, 
Washington, D.C.). 



54. Ramsey ltr, p. 3. 

55. Ramsey ltr, p. 2. 

56. Stockdale comments. 

57. Clayborne comments. 

58. Miller comments. 

59 Stockdale comments. 

60. RAdm Merlin H. Staring memo to SecNav, I6jul73; Col James 
P. King memo to ACMC, lAug79 (JAR File). 

61. Stockdale comments. 

62. Miller comments 

63. RAdm Horace B. Robertson, Jr. memo to SecNav, 22jun73; Col 
John R. DeBarr memo to CMC, 5Jul73 and 2Aug73 G AR File ) 

64. BGen Walter J. Donovan memo to CMC, 29May85 (JAR File); 
HQMC(PA), "Fact Sheet: Operation Homecoming; Disciplinary Ac- 
tion Against Returnees" (Vietnam Comment File). 

65 . Report of Defense Review Committee for the Code of Conduct 
{Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense, 1976), pp. 15-17, here- 
after Code of Conduct review (Vietnam Comment File). 

66. Code of Conduct review, p. 16. 

67. CinCPac ComdHist73, pp. 599-603 

68. Time, 19Feb73, p- 13, in CinCPac ComdHist73, p. 600. 

Code of Conduct 

69. For Vietnam era SERE doctrine see DA, FM21-76 Survival, Eva- 
sion, Resistance, and Escape, Mar69; FM21-77A Joint Worldwide 
Evasion and Escape Manual; and DAPAM30-101 Communist In- 
terrogation, Indoctrination, and Exploitation of Prisoners of War, 

70. CMC Reference Notebooks 1971-1972, Tab III-F-1-0, "Code of 

71. Ibid., pp. H-22 to H-29. 

72. POW study, Tab-Code of Conduct. 

73. Code of Conduct review, p. 17. Also Maj Terrence P. Murray, 
"Code of Conduct— A Sound Doctrine," Marine Corps Gazette, 
Dec83. pp. 56-62; and Maj Edward F. Wells, "Operation Homecom- 
ing" (ms, MCHC, Washington, DC ), 1985. 

74. Montague comments. 

MIAs: The Joint Casualty Resolution Center 

75. SecNav memo to CMC/CNO, 6Jul73 (JAR File). 

76. OASD(ISA) memo to SecDef, 4May77 (JAR File). 

77. LtCol Richard H. Esau, Jr., "Da Nang After the Armistice," Ma- 
rine Corps Gazette, Jul74, pp. 49-50. 

78. INTC comments, p. 36. 

79. Garwood Folder (JAR File); HQMC, "Return of PFC Robert Rus- 
sell Garwood, USMC, from Vietnam," AAR, 20Apr79; MCB Camp 
Lejeune, "Public Affairs and the GCM of PFC Robert R. Garwood, 
USMC," AAR, 5Mar81; and PFC Robert R. Garwood biographical 
file (RefSec, MCHC, Washington. D.C.). 

80. SecDef msg to CMC, 30Jun82; SecDef msg to SecNav, 25Mar83; 
SecDef msg to CMC, HJul85; and OASD(ISA), "Status Reviews and 
Accounting for Servicemen Missing in Southeast Asia," 4May77. See 
also OASD(PA). "Americans Unaccounted for in Indochina," 2Jan89; 
"Joint Casualty Resolution Center," 2Jan86; "U.S. Army Central Iden- 
tification Laboratory," 2Jan86; "Remains Identified as American," 
2Jan86; "Technical Talks," 24Feb86: "Principal Sources of POW/MIA 
Information," 24Feb86; and "Official U.S. Government Live Sight- 
ing Position," 24Feb86 (Vietnam Comment File). 


Unless otherwise noted, material in this chapter is derived from 
CincPac ComdHist73; MACV ComdHist73; FMFPac MarOpsSEA, 
SeventhFlt ConidHist73; MAU Files; and the Defense Attache 
Office, History of the Defense Attache (National Records Center, 
Suitland, Md.), hereafter DAOHist. See also Brig F. B. Serong, "The 
1972 Easter Offensive," Southeast Asian Perspectives, Summer 74; 
Sir Robert Thompson, Peace is Not at Hand (New York: David 
McKay Company, Inc., 1974); and Nguyen Khac Vien, ed., Indochi- 
na: The 1972-73 Turning Point (Hanoi: Xunhasaba, 1974). 

Operation End Sweep 

Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is derived from 
FMFPac MarOpsSEA. SeventhFlt ComdHist73; Office of Naval 
Research, "Operation Endsweep," ONR study CRC 277, Feb75 
(CNA, Washington, DC), hereafter CNA Endsweep; and 
HMM-165, HMM-164, HMH-463 ComdCs, Feb-Aug73. See also 
RAdm Brian McCauley, "Operation End Sweep," Naval Institute 
Proceedings, Mal74, pp. 19-25, hereafter McCauley, Endsweep; and 
LtCol John Van Nortwick, "Endsweep," Marine Corps Gazette, 
May 74, pp. 29-36, hereafter Van Nortwick. 

1 FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 5-14 to 5-17; Capr Paul L. Gruendl, 
comments on draft ms, 10Dec89 (Vietnam Comment File). 

2. McCauley, Endsweep, p. 23. 

3. Gruendl comments. 

4. HMM-165, Special Operation Report (Endsweep), 21Aug73, pas- 
sim, hereafter HMM-165 SOR. 

5- FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 6-12. 

6. CNA Endsweep, pp. Cl to C3. 

7. CNA Endsweep, pp. B-l to B-3. 

8. JCS Historical Division, Comments on draft ms, 5Dec89 (Viet- 
nam Comment File). 

9. HMM-165 ComdC, Feb73, p. 21. 

10. Brown, pp. 8-9. 

11. CNA Endsweep, p. 5-7. 

12. HMM-165 ComdC, Feb73, p. 22. 

13. Van Nortwick, pp. 31-32. 

14. HMM-165 ComdC, Feb73, p. 22. 

15. Gruendl comments. 

16. CNA Endsweep, p. E-9. 

17. JCS comments. 

18. HMH-463 ComdC, Jun73. p.7; HMM-165 SOR, p. 14. 

19. Van Nortwick, p. 33 (which does not reflect command chro- 
nology totals). 

20. HMH-463 ComdC, Jun73, p. 7. See Van Nortwick and HMM-165 
SOR for detailed lessons learned. 

21. SeventhFlt OpOrd 9-73, 26Ju)73, and SeventhFlt ComdHist73, 
End (2), p. 1. 

22. McCauley, Endsweep, p. 23. 

Task Force Delra, The Tigers Depart 

Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is derived from 
the TFD AAR. TFD Brief, and MAG-15 ComdC, Jan-Sept73. 

23. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, pp. 6-6 to 6 8; MAG-15 ComdC, Jun73, 
p. 10. 



24. MAG-15 ComdC, Jun73, End (1), p. 4. 

25. TFD ComdC, Sept73, p. IM. 

2(5. TFD AAR, pp. 1-28 to 1-30; Maj George R. Dunham, "The 
Khmex Flex Their Muscle" (ms, MCHC, Washington, D.C.) pp. 

27. TFD Brief, Tab E; TFD AAR, pp. 3-1 to 3-5. 

28. TFD AAR, pp. 6-1 to 6-14. 

29. Maj John T. Dyer, "Impressions of a 'Rose Garden,' " Fortitu- 
dine, Fall 1973, pp. 4-6. 

30. Brown, pp. 10-11, 13; SecDef Itr to MajGen Brown, 7Sept72; 
Brown comments. 

31. FMFPac, Human Affairs, passim; HQMC Manpower study, pp. 

32. TFD ComdC, Sept73, p. II-l. 
33- TFD ComdC, Sept73, p. 111-2. 

34. BGen Manning T. Jannell, Comments on draft ms, 290ct89 
(Vietnam Comment File). 

35. CGMACThai msg to SecDef, 2lSept73 (Vietnam Comment File). 

36. Jannell comments. 

37. TFD AAR, pp. 1-15 to 1-21. 

To What End? 

Unless otherwise noted, material in this section is derived from 
LtCol Gerald H. Turley, "Time of Change in Modern Warfare," Ma- 

rine Corps Gazette, Dec74, pp. 16-20; BGen Edwin H. Simmons, 
"The Marines: Now and in the Future," Naval Review 1975, pp. 
102-117; MajGen Bernard E. Tfainor, "New Thoughts on War," Ma- 
rine Corps Gazette, Dec80, pp. 49-51; and Allan R, Millett. "The 
U.S. Marine Corps, Adaptation in the Post-Vietnam Era," Armed 
Forces and Society, Spring 83, pp. 363-392, 

38. Douglas Pike, PAVN: People's Army of Vietnam (Novato, Calif.: 
Presidio Press, 1986), pp. 48-49, 103, 229; also ColGen Van Tien 
Dung, "Some Problems Concerning the Art of Military Campaigns 
of the Vietnamese People's War," People 's Army Magazine, Dec73, 
pp. 61-65 (Vietnam Comment File). 

39. LtCol Andrew D. DeBona comments, CSC symposium. 

40. Peter Braestrup comments, CSC symposium. 

41. FMFPac MarOpsSEA, p. 6-14, and SMA msg to CTF76&79, 
30Jun72 (Vietnam Comment File). 

42. HQMC, "Contingency Operations involving U.S. Marine forces 
in Evacuation or Rescue Missions, 1956-1975," study, 21Apr81 (Ref- 
Sec, MCHC, Washington, D.C). 

43. Metzgef intvw. 

44. MCCC Chron, 12 Jul 73, Tab 41-10; OASD(C) AirLoss, Tables 
351 and 352; CMC Reference Notebook 1975. Tab U-H-l, "USMC 
Casualties in SEAsia." 

45. Col Harry G. Summers, Jr., On Strategy (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: 
U.S. Army War College, 1981) p. 1. 

Appendix A 

Command and Staff List 
Marine Advisory Unit 

Marine Advisory Unit 

SMA Col Francis W, Tief Ijul71-10jul71 

Col Joshua W. Dorscy III Hjul71-3lMar73 

VNMC Advisor Assignments 

Capt James B. Archer Infantry* 

Capt Russell E Bailes, Jr Unit Hq, Engineer 

Maj James D. Beans Infantry 

Maj Walter E. Boomer Infantry 

Maj Gerald W. Boston Infantry* 

Capt James A. Brabham, Jr Engineer 

CW03 Sheila R. Bray, Jr Engineer 

CW03 Ferris D. Brown Engineer 

Maj Jack R. Campbell, Jr Infantry* 

Capt Reid O. Carlock Infantry* 

Maj Paul L. Carlson Infantry* 

Capt Philip C. Cisneros Infantry* 

Capt William A. Clark III Infantry 

SSgt Richard E. Clemens Unit Hq 

Maj Robert C. Cockcll Infantry 

Capt Clelland D. Collins, Jr Infantry 

Maj Patrick G. Collins Infantry* 

Capt Allen M. Coward Motor Transport 

Sgt Bobbie G. Crowl Unit Hq 

HMC E. E Currier, USN Medical 

Maj Andrew D, Debona Infantry 

Capt Gary D. Dockendorff G-l 

CW03 Bobby E. Dusek Communications 

Maj Jon T. Easley G-4, Training 

Capt Clark D. Embrcy Infantry 

Cape Robert S. Evasick Artillery 

Sgt Gary M. Faureck Unit Hq 

LtCol Walter D. Fillmore Assistant SMA 

HMC Ronald C. Fitzgerald, USN Medical 

CW02 George M. Francis Unit Hq 

GySgt David F. Fureigh Unit Hq 

Maj Thomas E. Gnibus Artillery 

Maj Charles J. Goodc, Jr Training, Infantry, Unir Hq 

Capt Samuel T. Gray Supply 

GySgt Ronald C Guilliams Motor Transport 

Capt Ronald C. Harrington Infantry 

Capt David D. Harris Infantry 

'Temporary assignment. 

Maj William R. Hart Artillery 

Capt Stephen M. Hartnctt Infantry 

SSgr Jerry W. Harvey Unit Hq 

SSgt Richard L. Helm Communications 

Maj Porrer K. Henderson Infantry* 

CW03 James E. Hill Ordnance 

Capt Richard W. Hodory Infantry 

Capt Terry L. Howard Supply 

Maj Emmett S. Huff, Jr Infantry 

Capt Frank M. Izenour, Jr G-3, G-2 

Capt Harry Jensen, Jr Infantry* 

Capt James E Johnson Infantry 

Lt(jg) Wesley J, Johnson, USN Medical 

Maj Clyde J. Johnston Artillery 

Maj Duncan H. Jones Arrillery 

Capt Walter F. Jones Infantry 

Maj Jim R. Joy Infantry, G-3 

Maj Gordon W. Keiser Infantry 

Maj Robert D. Kclley Infantry, OIC Rear 

Maj William M. Keys Infantry 

Capt Charles W. King Infantry, Unit Hq 

Capt Earl A. Krugcr Infantry 

Capt John J. Lacy G-l, PsyOps, Training 

Sgt Robert R. Langdon Unit Hq 

Capt Steven P. Lindsey Infantry 

Capt AlastairJ. Livingston Infantry* 

Capt Lawrence H. Livingston Infantry, Training 

GySgt John C Lowery Unit Hq 

Capt Charles A, Lyle Infantry 

Sgt Daniel L. Mason Unit Hq 

GySgt Robert L. McElyea Unit Hq 

GySgt Roscoc A, McGuire Unit Hq 

Maj Robert C. Mclntccr Amphibious Support 

Maj Paul A. McLaughlin Artillery 

Capt Eric W. Mczgcr Infantry* 

Sgt Charles J. Miller Unit Hq 

Capt William H. Miller Motor Transport 

Capt Charles P. Minor III Infantry* 

Capt Peter S. Morosoff Infantry 

GySgt James A. Morris Unit Hq 

Capt John D, Murray Infantry 

Capt Allen D. Nettleingham Infantry 

Capt Phillip C. Norton Infantry 

Maj Joseph J. O'Brien Infanrry 

Capt Jerome X. O'Donovan, Jr Infantry 

LCdr R.S. Oldham, USN Medical 

Capt Thomas F. O'Toole, Jr G-2 

Capt Robert A. Packard, Jr Infantry 

Maj Donald C. Pease Infantry* 




Capt Harty W. Peterson II] Infantry* 

Capt George Philip III Artillery 

Maj John Pipta Artillery 

Sgt Calvin L. Pitchford Unit Hq 

CWOl William T. Pope Ordnance 

LtCol James A. Poland G-3 

Maj Stanley G. Pratt G-4 

Maj Donald L. Price Infantry 

SSgt Paul A. Prusak Unit Hq 

Capt David S. Randall, Jr Artillery 

Capt Charles L. Redding Infantry* 

Capt Robert K. Redlin Infantry 

Capt Ronald R. Rice Infantry 

Capt John W. Ripley Infantry 

Capt Joe D. Robinson Infantry 

Capt Wayne E. Rollings Infantry* 

Maj Geoffrey H. Root G-4 

Maj Richard B. Rothwell Infantry 

Capt James W. Seal Infantry 

Capt Merlyn A. Sexton Infantry 

Maj Robert F. Sheridan Training, Infantry 

Maj Robert D. Shoptaw G-4 

Capt Ray L. Smith Infantry 

Capt William J. Spangler Infantry* 

GySgt Bernard J. Sturzl Unit Hq 

Maj William T, Sweeney Infantry 

LtCol William G. Swigert Assistant SMA 

GySgt Joseph Syfcora, Jr Unit Hq 

Capt John W. Theisen G-2 

Maj James M. Tulley Unit Hq 

LtCol Getald H. Turley Assistant SMA, G-3 

Maj William R. Warren Infantry, Unit Hq 

Capt Marshall R. Wells Infantry, G-3 

Maj Oliver M. Whipple, Jr Amphibious Support, Infantry 

Capt Jonathan W. Wilbor Infantry* 

Capt William D. Wischmeyer Infantry 

Sgt William D. Wisecarvcr Unit Hq 

Maj Regan R. Wright Infantry 

Capt Thomas Zalewski Communications 

Capt Jon L. Zellers Infantry 

*Temporary assignment. 

Appendix B 

Command and Staff List 
Marine Ground Units 

Sub Unic One 

Hq, 31st Marine Amphibious 


1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company 

(31st MAU/CTG 79.4) 




CO Col Walter C. Kelly 


CO LtCol Eugene E. Shoults 


Col Donald E. Newton 


LtCol D'Wayne Gray 


Col Thomas J. Stevens 


LtCol George h. Jones 


au Lt^ui uien i. Deautnamp 


au rviaj cawara j. L^yer, jr. 

LtCol Thomas E. Bradley 


Maj Glen Golden 


LtCol Gerit L. Fenenga 


Maj John S. Vogt 


S-l CW02 Donald J. Mossey 


Maj William A. Hall 


Maj Jules C. Rivera, Jr. 


SgtMaj IstSgt Elvis W. Lane 


CW02 James N. Deitrich 


IstSgt Ernest Benjamin 


IstLt Leonard L. Touney 


IstSgt Kenneth R. BuehJ 


2dLt Billy R. Newman 


S-l IstLt Richard E. Scott 


S-2 Maj Grady V. Gardner 


IstLt John H. Cole, Jr. 


Maj William L. Shearer 


S-3 LCdr Richard M. Kreassing, USN 


Maj William P Eshelman 


Lt(jg) David P. Throop, USN 


S-3 Maj James H. Yarnell 


Capt Ronald W. Marsteller 


Maj Julian P. Stienon 


Lt(jg) David P, Throop, USN 


Maj John W. O'Donnell 


Lt Robert I. Still, USN 


Maj Joseph W. Gibbs III 


IstLt William E. Corcoran 


Maj Robert J. Graham 


S-4 CW03 Joseph R. Morrissette 


S-4 Maj Berlis F. Ennis 


CW04 Roy K. Harris 


Maj Harold E. Itchkawich 


IstLt Frank Rivas, Jr. 


Maj Bobbie K. Brodie 


'Deactivated with return to FMFPac on 


Hq, 33d Marine Amphibious Unit 

Hn Qrh Marin** Amnhihimic 


JJLI E li.VJ >_ 

(33d MAU/CTG 79.5) 

(9thMAB/CTG 79.1) 


3Ap r 72-9Feb73* 

CO Col Robert J. Perrich 


CG BGen Edward J. Miller 


Col Charles T. Williamson 


BGen Paul G. Graham 


XO LtCol Julius M. Lewis, Jr. 


C/S Col Sumner A. Vale 


LtCol Bobby T. Ladd 


Col Kenneth G. Fiegener 


S-l Maj Dougal A. Cameron III 


G-l LtCol William C. Bradley 


CW02 James R. Milner 


Capt Herbert F. Posey 


CW03 John M. Larson 


Maj David D. Johns 


S-2 Maj John F. Delaney 


G-2 Maj James A. Miller 


Maj Henry W. Austin 


Maj William I. Ferrier 


Capt Jerrold T. Irons 


Maj Fred L. Edwards, Ji, 


S-3 Maj William H. Leonard 


G-3 LtCol James L. Shanahan 


Maj Dougal A. Cameron III 


LtCol James L. Day 


Maj Raymond M. Kostesky 


G-4 LtCol Frank S. Cannon 


Maj Jerry D. Peterson 


LtCol Richard L. Etter 


Maj David J. McGraw 


LtCol Jimmie R. Phillips 


S-4 Maj David J. Ryan 


G-5 LtCol George B. Crist 


Maj Leonard K. Slusher 


Capt Emile W. Hoffman 


'Deactivated with return to III MAF on 


''Command Chronologies incomplete. 

'Deactivated 26Apr?i. 




1st Battalion, 4th Marines 

CO ItCol Clyde D. Dean 
LtCol Floyd A. Karker, Jt. 

XO Maj Robert E, Hamilton 
Maj Herbert L. Seay 

H&S Capt Robert E. Happy 

A Co Capt Joseph E. Freed 
lstlt Charles C. Emmons 

B Co Capt Robert W. Carswell 

C Co Capt Donald R. Huskey 
IstLt Donald L. Martin 
IstLt John H. Young 

D Co Capt John S. Leffen, Jr. 
IstLt James G. Zumwalt II 


IstLt Perry S. Shimanoff 
Capt Richaid T. Kohl 
M Co Capt Walter E. Deese 
Capt Dennis B. Fryrear 
Capt Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr. 


1st Battalion, 9th Marines 

2d Battalion, 4th Marines 

CO LtCol John Phillips 
LtCol Robert W, Kirby 

XO Maj John W. Hemingway 
Maj Henry W. Tutterow, Jr. 
Maj Robert R. Babbin 

H&S Capt Robert T. Willis 
lstlt Robert W. Clark 
lstlt Everitt P. Clark, Jr. 

E Co Capt Carlton W. Fulford, Jr. 
Capt Robert G. Nunnally 
lstlt Robert P. McAleer 
Capt Fred R. Crowley 
Capt William J. Johnston III 


CO ItCol Phillip B. Friedrichs 
ItCol Robert A. Monfort 

XO Maj Joseph P. Hoar 
Maj Phillip A. Forbes 
Maj Bayliss L. Spivey, Jr. 

H&S Capt Robert J. Arbolcda 
IstLt Robert W. Geary 
Capt Howard W. Langdon, Jr. 

A Co IstLt Charles Demello 
IstLt John C. Dowell 

B Co lstlt Charles D. Melson 
Capt Lynn J. Kimball 
lstlt Robert G. Sikorski 

C Co Capt John D. Haaland 
lstlt Paul R. Gerdes 
Capt Robert E. Logan, Jr. 

D Co Capt Dennis R. Kendig 
lstlt Peter J. Cammarano 
Capt Donald R. Dunagan 


2d Battalion, 9th Marines 

F Co Capt Guy A. Pete, Jr. 


Capt William R, J. Masciangelo 


CO LtCol John C. Gonzales 


lstlt Allan H. Vargas 


LtCol Jerome P. Trehy 


Capr Larry S, Schmidt 


LtCol Ray A. Stephens 


G Co Capt George S. Ford 


XO Maj Richard A. Johnson 


Capt Carlos D. Espinoza 


Maj Edward H. Boyd 


IstLt Peter R. Dorn 


Maj Richard W. Marsden 


Capt Laurens J. Jansen 


H&S Capt Richard D. Camp, Jr. 


H Co Capt Bruce E. Griesmer 


Capt Albert P. Johns 


Capt George J. Eschenfelder !May72-31Dec72 

Capt John M. Holladay 


Capt Paul L. Snead 


lstlt Donald Thomley 


3d Battalion, 4th Marines 

E Co IstLt Kevin G. Crouthamel 



Capt Robert G. Nunnally 


Capt John M. Holladay 


CO LtCol William R. Von Harten 


F Co lstlt Robert A. Thomas 


LtCol Bruce A. Truesdale 


lstlt Andrew N. Pratt 


H&S Capt John S. Lowery, Jr. 


Capt William R. J. Masiangelo 


lstlt Dennis J. Hellman 


lstlt Andrew N Pratt 


Capt Walter E. Deese 


Capt Albert P. Johns 


IstLt Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr. 


G Co IstLt Askold T. Haywas 


Capt Thomas A. Hobbs 


Capt Peter N. Vidito 


1 Co Capt Samuel M Garland 


IstLt Gary M. Alden 


K Co Capt Jack M. Moore 


H Co Capt Coy T. Best, Jr. 


IstLt Paul R. Ottinger 


IstLt Thomas J. Short 


Capt Eugene G. Meiners 


IstLt Leo W. Billings 


L Co Capt Harry C. Dolan 


Capt Carlos D. Espinoza 




3d Battalion, 9th Marines 

CO LtCol Geoigc B. Crist 
LtCol Ronald A. Clark 
LtCol Richard J. Alger 

XO Maj Richard C. Ossenfort 
Maj Daniel E. Mullally, Jr. 
Maj Samuel E. Black 

H&S Capt Thomas D. Martin 
IstLt David E. Vlasak 
lstlt George W. Ball 
Capt Robert E. Tschan 

Co I Capt Richard A. Crowe 
lstLtJohn G. Nemec, Jr. 
IstLt Frederick C Williams 





Capt Michael S. Kelly 
Co K Capt Richard J. Muller 
IstLt Carl J, Loguidice 
Capt Nathaniel R. Hoskot, Jr. 
Co L Capt Gary W McDowell 
IstLt Jeffrey M. Parkinson 
IstLt Roger F Harris 
Capt Philip F. Reynolds 
Co M Capt Klaus D. Schreiber 
IstLt Raymond M. Kruse 
IstLt Gregg C. Kubu 
IstLt David E. Vlasak 
Capt Thomas D. Martin 

"To MAG-12, 25Aug72. 
**To MAG-12, 21May72. 
***To MAC-). 3, 4Jun72. 
****To MAG-15, 3jun72. 


Appendix C 

Command and Staff List 
Marine Air Units 

Hq, Task Force Delta 


CG BGen Andrew W. O'Donnel! 


BGen Robert W Taylor 


BGen Manning T. JannelJ 


C/S Col Richard E. Hawes, Jr. 


LtCol Guy R. Campo 


LtCol Louis W. Schwindt 


G-l Capt Matthew Pallo, Jr. 


CW02 Dennis Egan 


G-2 Maj James M, Barnhart 


G-3 LtCol Mervyn J. Burns 


Maj Paul M. Cole 


Maj Arthur P. Loring, Jr. 


LtCol Robert Plant 


LtCol Norman A. Smith 


G-4 LtCol Vincil W. Hazelbaker 


LrCol Robert C. Tashjian 


G-5 Capt Theodore D. Owens 


3/9 Security Element 

Maj John M. Campanelli 


Maj Kenneth N. Zike 


*Deactivated with return to 111 MAF on 


UY) Mirinp Air IrrAim 17 Imrwar 

ITU p lT«ciri[lt /111 UIUUU 1 £t ^JViWfll 

dl (MAG-121 


CO Col Dean C. Macho 


XO LtCol John M. Rapp 


LtCol Eddie R. Maag 


LtCol Harold L. Jackson, Jr. 


S-l Maj Theodore R. McElroy 


Capt Marvin F. Pixton HI 


Maj John T. Cline 


Maj John H. Ditto 


S-2 CW02 Arnoldo T. Serrata 


S-3 Maj Richard T. Poore 


Maj Kenneth D. Holland 


Maj Jack L. Omei 


S-4 Maj Angelo M. Inglisa 


Maj Robert C. Blackington 


Maj James B. Harrison, Jr. 


3/9 Security Element 

Capt Nathaniel R. Hoskot, Jr. 


Capt Michael S. Kelly 

2 5Aug72-2Feb73 

*Date returned to 1st MAW. 

Hq, Marine Air Group 15 (Forward) (MAG-15) 

1 Anr72-RAiitF7') 

Col Aubrey W. Talbert, Jt. 


Col Darrel E. Bjorklund 


aU LtL.01 uon A. MlCKle 

LrCol Rodney 0. Lawrence 


LtCol Don J. Slee 


T . — 1 1 "1 IV/ 1 1 I 

LtCol Arvid W. Realsen 


S-l Maj Daniel C. Escalara 


LtCol John T Tyler 


Maj Martin W. Meredith 


Capt Bruce E. Welch 


S-2 Capt Donald L. Schussele 


Capt Bruce M. Wincentsen 


CW02 Thomas R. Burnham 


CW03 Richard D. Webb 


S-3 Maj Joseph B. Wuertz 


LtCol Ernest J. Andersen 


Maj Arthur P. Loring, Jt. 


LtCol Robert Plant 


S-4 Maj Jack P. Smirh 


Maj William F. Tremper 


Maj William J. Coopet 


Maj Jay N. Bibler 


3/9 Security Element 

Capt Philip F. Reynolds 


"Date returned to 1st MAW. 

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 

115 (VMFA-115) 


CO LrCol Kent A. McFerren 


Maj Gerald Dejong 


LtCol Henry C. Ivy, Jr. 


LtCol Charles V. Smillic, Jr. 


XO Maj Thomas K. Duffy 


Maj Gerald Dejong 


Maj Jay N. Bibler 


Maj William J. Cooper 


Maj Philip R. Kruse 


Marine Aerial RefueLer 
Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152), Detachment Delta 


OIC Maj Francis T. O'Conner 8Jun72-6Aug72 
Maj Anton E. Therriault 7Aug72-50ct72 




Capt Andrew D. Larson 
Capt David D. Hundley 
Capt Larry W. Allen 
Capt Harry F. Clemence, Jr. 


Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164 (HMM-164) 


CO LtCol Edward C. Hertberg 
Maj David J. Moore 
LtCol Edward C. Hertberg 
LrCol Donald E Schneider 

XO Maj David J. Moore 

Maj Achille J. Verbeck, Jr. 

Maj David J. Moore 

Maj Harrison A. Makeever 


Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (HMM-165) 


CO LtCol Paul L. Moreau 

LtCol Charles H. F. Egger 

LtCol Arthur B. Colbert 
XO Maj Donnie M. Griffay 

Maj Thomas A. B. Goidsborough 

Maj Davis Sayes 

Maj Robert P. Rogers 


*OpCon TF 78, lFebli until 24Jul7i. 

Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) 

CO LtCol Willis E. Wilson, Jr. 17May72-23May72 

LtCol Delbert G. Ranney 24May72-lFeb73 

XO Maj Richard A. Bishop 17May72-13Apr72 

Maj Donald M. Ferris 14Apr72-6May72 

Maj Lonnie S. Underhiil 7May72-8J u 172 

Maj William H. Horner 9Jul72-lFeb73 

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 (VMFA-212) 

CO LtCol Richard D, Revie 
XO Maj James B. Leonard, Jr. 


*Unit departed RVN for Hawaii, 24Jun72, 

Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 224 (VMA[AW]-224) 


CO LtCol Billey R. Standley 
LtCol Ralph E. Brubaker 

XO LtCol Ralph E. Brubaker 
Maj Robert L. Gondek 


*Deployed for operations in Southeast Asia on the USS Coral 
Sea, 8Dec71 until U]ul72. 

Marine Jighter Attack Squadron 232 {VMIA-232) 


LtCol Eddie R. Maag 
LtCol Rodney O. Lawrence 
Maj James M. Mead 
XO Maj Daniel C Escalera 
Maj Jacob K. Albright, Jr. 
Maj William T McFall 
Maj Dave G. Drewelow 


Marine Attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311) 


CO LtCol Kevin M. Johnston 
LtCol John J. Caldas, Jr. 

XO Maj Thomas L. Elser 
Maj John T. Cline 


Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 333 (VMFA-333) 

CO LtCol John K. Cochran 
Maj Lee T. Lasseter 

XO Maj Lee T. Lasseter 

Maj Thomas J. Lyman, Jr. 



*Deployed for operations tn Southeast Asia on the USS Ameri- 
ca, lJu/72 until 4Mar73. 

Marine Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 (HMA-369) 


CO Maj Dawson P. Hansen 
Maj David L. Ross 

XO Capt Ronald G. Osborne 
Maj James H. Marshall 
Maj Dawson P. Hansen 


*OpCon TF 77, 22Jun72 until 26Jan7}. 

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463) 


CO Maj John Van Nortwick III 
Maj William J. Smith 

XO Maj William J. Smith 
Maj Bruce L. Shapiro 



*OpCon TF 78, lFeb73 until 24Jul75. 

Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 533 (VMA[AW]-533) 

CO LtCol Joe L. Gregorcyk 


CO LtCol James C. Brown 
Maj Kent C. Batcman 
Maj Ronald E. Merrihew 

XO Maj John A. Martin 
Maj Kent C. Bateman 
Maj Ronald E. Merrihew 
Capt Ronald M. DAmura 
Maj Thomas W. Krimminger 


Appendix D 

Operation Homecoming 

Marine prisoners-of-war recovered prior to Operation Homecoming* 

Cpl Santos J. Agosto 





Sgt James Dodson 





LCpl Walter Eckes 





LCpl Walter D. Hamilton 





Sgt Frank C. lodice 





LCpl Steven D. Nelson 





Pvt Joseph S. North, Jr. 





Sgt Albert J. Potter 





Maj Richard F. Risner 





Pvt Michael R. Roha 





Sgt Jon M. Sweeney 





Cpl William P Taliaferro 





*Ranks at time of capture 

Marines missing-in-action during operations in 1972* 

CW02 Bruce E. Boltze 



over water 

Capt Donald C. Breuer 




Capt Ralph J. Chipman 



North Vietnam 

IstLt John M. Christensen 



over water 

Capt John W. Consolvo, Jr. 



South Vietnam 

IstLt Sam G. Cordova 




Cpl Kenneth L. Crody 



South Vietnam 

IstLt Ronald W. Forrester 



North Vietnam 

SSgt Jerry W. Hendrix 



South Vietnam 

IstLt Scott D. Ketchie 




Capt David L. Leet 



over water 

IstLt Joseph W. McDonald 



North Vietnam 

Capt John R. Peacock II 



North Vietnam 

IstLt Larry F. Potts 



South Vietnam 

IstLt William M. Price 



North Vietnam 

IstLt Dwight G. Rickman 



South Vietnam 

Capt Leonard Robertson 



South Vietnam 

Capt David B. Williams 



North Vietnam 

Cpl James F. Worth 



South Vietnam 

*Ranks at time of loss. 



Marine returnees during Operation Homecoming 

Capt William K. Angus 





SgtJoseJ. Anzaldua 





Capt Bruce R. Archer 





Capt Paul G. Brown 





Sgr Leonard R. Budd, Jr. 





Sgt Richard G. Burgess 





LtCol Harlan P. Chapman 





SSgt Frank E. Cius, Jr. 





SSgtJohn A. Deering 





Capt James V. Dibernardo 





LtCol John H. Dunn 





Pvt Fred L. Elbert, Jr. 





Capt Lawrence V. Friese 





Sgt Robert R. Helle 





Sgt Abel L. Kavanaugh 





IstLt Alan J. Kroboth 





LtCol Jerry W. Marvel 





LtCol Edison W. Miller 





Maj Paul J. Montague 





SSgt Alfonso R. Riate 





Sgt Ronald L. Ridgeway 





Maj Orson G. Swindle HI 





Sgt Dennis A. Tellier 





CW03 William E. Thomas, Jr. 





Capt James P. Walsh 





Capt James H. Warner 





*Ranks at time of release. 

Marines recovered after Operation Homecoming 
PFC Robert R. Garwood captured 28Sep65 returned 21Mar79 

III MAF Operation Homecoming Marine Processing Team 


Deputy Commander 
Team Chief 
Asst Team Chief 
Admin Team 

Col John W. Clayborne 
Maj John J. Paganelli 
Maj Richard L. Brown 
Capt Gerald S. Duncan 
Capt Robert E. Spiker 
SSgt Richard V. Anderson 
Sgt Thomas W. Bohnenkamp 
Sgt Frank R. Lawson 
Sgt OrvilleJ. Pierce 



Medical Team 

Public Affairs 

Debrief Team 

Uniform Team 

Escort Team Chief 

FMFPac POW Action Officer 

HQMC POW Action Officers 
Policy, G-l 
Casualty, G-l 
Intelligence, G-2 
Public Affairs 
Judge Advocate 

Capt S. R. Hardman, USN 
CdrJ. G. Newton, USN 
Capt M. A. Vasquez, USN 
Cdr P. O. O'Halloran, USN 
HM1 T. J. Taylor, USN 
2dLt Thomas E. Kingry 
LtCol Joseph A. Mallery, Jr. 
Maj Neal T. Rountree 
CW02 Lawrence T. Mullin 
Capt William C. Howey 
CW03 Vaughan E. Delk 
CW03 Claude R. Cordell, Jr. 
GySgt Cleslie H. Evans 
GySgt Lloyd H. Link 
MSgt Fred A. Norvell 
SSgt William C. Dahlquist 
SSgt Ronald E. demons 
LtCol Melvin H. Sautter 

Maj Thomas Y. Barton, Jr. 

Maj William B. Clark 
Capt James A. Johnson 
Capt Thomas H. Marino 
Capt James A. Amendolia 
Maj David M. Brahms 

Appendix E 

Vietnamese Marine Corps (VNMC) 
January 1972 - January 1973 


LtGen Le Nguyen Khang 
BGen Bui The Lan 


Maj Nguyen Van Dong 


Col Bui The Lan 
Col Nguyen Thanh Tri 

Medical Battalion 


Col Le Dinh Que 


■ XT _ _ 

Maj Nguyen Van The 

IG Inspector 

Col Ton That Soan 

Maj Tran Manh Tuong 

Maj Nguyen Van Hay 

Maj Nguyen Manh Tuong 


Maj Nguyen Van Dien 

Amphibious Support Battalion 


Capt Nguyen Van Hanh 

Social Welfare 

Capt Tran Thi Huy Le, WACF 


Maj Phan Van Sat 

DC/S Ops and Log 

LtCol Nguyen The Luong 


Maj Vuong Van Tai 

(C/S Forward) 

Col Pham Van Chung 


Capt Tran Van Nuoi 

Engineer Battalion 


Capt Nguyen Van Hanh 


Maj Le Van Hien 


Maj Do Van Ty 


Capt Tran Kim Hoang 


Capt Cao Van Tarn 


LtCol Do Ky 

Maj Dang Van Tuyen 


Maj Tran Van Hien 

G-3 TOC 

F tCril ND"i]vf*n Hi]n Car 

JLAjiig ivdiigv ncLonndiaaancc v^oiiipany 14 1 

G-3 Ops 

Maj Le Van Cuu 

G-3 Plans 

Maj Phan Cong Ton 


IstLt Phan Van Than 

G-3 Trng 

Capt Le Hoang Nghi 


Maj Nguyen Van Nhieu 

Long Range Reconnaissance Company 258 

G-4 Trans 

Maj Ngo Nhat Thang 

G-4 Plans 

2dLt Nguyen Van Le 


Capt Duong Van Buu 

DC/S Polwar 

LtCol Bui Van Pham 


Capt Le Dinh Bao 

Long Range Reconnaissance Company 369 

Psyops Trng 

Capt Huynh Van Phu 


LtCol Nguyen Van Truoc 


Capt Tran Van Chi 


Maj Vo Dang Phuong 


LtCol Hoang Ngoc Bao 

Brigade 147 


Maj Nguyen Nhu Chu 


uarters Battalion 


Col Nguyen Nang Bao 
LtCol Phan Van Thang 



LtCol Vo Kinh 

LtCol Nguyen Xuan Phuc 


LtCol Pham Nha 

Brigade 258 

Maj Dang Van Hoc 

Communications Battalion 


Col Ngo Van Dinh 


LtCol Do Dinh Vuong 


LtCol Hoang Ngoc Bao 

LtCol Do Huu Tung 

















Brigade 369 

Col Pham Van Chung 
LtCol Nguyen The Luong 
LtCoJ Pham Nha 
LtCol Doan Thuc 

1st Infantry Battalion 

Maj Nguyen Dang Tong 
Maj Nguyen Dang Hoa 
Maj Doan Due Nghi 
Maj Nguyen Cao Nghiem 

2d Infantry Battalion 

LtCol Nguyen Xuan Phuc 
Maj Tran Van Hop 
Maj Tran Van Ho 
Maj Le Quang Lien 

3d Infantry Battalion 

Maj Le Ba Binh 
Maj Nguyen Van Canh 
Capt Duong Van Hung 

4th Infantry Battalion 

Maj Tran Xuan Quang 
LtCol Nguyen Dang Tong 
Maj Nguyen Dang Hoa 
Maj Pham Kim Tien 

5th Infantry Battalion 

LtCol Ho Quang Lich 
Maj Tran Ba 
Capt Ngo Thanh Huu 

6th Infantry Battalion 

Maj Do Huu Tung 
Maj Tran Van Hien 










Maj Nguyen Van Canh 
Maj Nguyen Van Su 

7th Infantry Battalion 

Maj Vo Tri Hue 
Maj Nguyen Van Kim 
Capt Nguyen Van Kim 
Capt Ton That Tran 

8th Infantry Battalion 

Maj Nguyen Van Phan 
Capt Le Van Huyen 
Maj Nguyen Phuc Dinh 

9th Infantry Battalion 

LtCol Nguyen Kim De 
Maj Pham Cang 

1st Artillery Battalion 

LtCol Doan Trong Cao 
Maj Nguyen Huu Lac 

2d Artillery Battalion 

LtCol Dang Ba Dat 
Maj Truong Cong Thong 

3d Artillery Battalion 

LtCol Tran Thien Hieu 
Capt Ha Tien Chuong 

Song Than Base 

Maj Tran Ngoc Toan 
LtCol Le Ba Binh 

Training Center 

LtCol Nguyen Due An 
Capt Le Van Do 
Capt Tran Xuan Bang 

Appendix F 

Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations 

A-l— Douglas Skyrcuder, a single-engine, propeller-driven attack 

A-4 — McDonnell Douglas Skyhawk, a single-seat jet attack aircraft 
in service on board carriers of the U.S. Navy and with land-based 
Marine attack squadrons. 

A-6— Grumman Intruder, a twin-jet, twin-seat attack aircraft spe- 
cifically designed to deliver weapons on targets completely ob- 
scured by weather or darkness. 

A-7— Vought Corsair, a single-seat, jet attack aircraft. 

A-37 — Cessna Dragonfly, a rwin-jet, dual-seat, light attack aircraft. 

AAA— Antiaircraft Artillery. 

ABCCC— Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center, a 
U.S. Air Force aircraft equipped with communications, data link, 
and display equipment; it may be employed as an airborne com- 
mand post or a communications and intelligence relay facility. 

AC-47 — Douglas Spooky, a twin-engine, propeller-driven gunship 
armed with four 7.62mm mini-guns and illumination. 

AC -119— Fairchild Shadow and Stinger, a twin-engine, propeller- 
driven gunship armed with four 7.62mm mini-guns and illu- 

AC -130— Lockheed Spectre, a four-engine, turboprop gunship armed 
with 20mm and 40mm guns, illumination, and infrared capa- 

ACCS— Airborne Command and Control Squadron. 

ACBLT— Air Contingency Battalion Landing Team, also Air BIT. 

ACT— U.S. Air Cavalry Troop. 

ACTIV— Army Concept Team in Vietnam. 

ADC— Assistant Division Commander. 

AdminO— Administrative Officer. 

Adv— Advanced. 

AH-1J — Bell Sea Cobra, twin-engine, single rotor helicopter spe- 
cifically designed for helicopter escort and gunship support with 
20mm cannon, rockets, and flares. 

AID— Agency for International Development. 

AIK— Assistance In Kind. 

Air America— U.S. Government-sponsored proprietary air transport 

AK-47 — Kalashnikov-designed, gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine- 
fed, 7.62mm automatic rifle, with an effective range of 400 
meters. Standard rifle of the North Vietnamese Army. 

A1C— Area logistical Command. 

A&L CO— Administrative and Direct Support logistics Company. 

Alladin — Air Force FAC operating at night using starlight scope and 
flares to control night air strikes. 

AlMar— All Marines, a Commandant of the Marine Corps bulletin 
directed to all Marine Corps personnel. 

ALO— Air Liaison Officer, a naval aviator/flight officer attached to 
a ground unit who is the primary advisor to the ground com- 
mander on air operation matters. 

AMTI— Airborne Moving Target Indicatot on the A-6 aircraft. 

ANGLICO— Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, a unit com- 
posed of Marine and Navy personnel specially qualified for con- 
trol of naval gunfire and close air support. ANGLICO personnel 

normally provided this service while attached to U.S. and al- 
lied units. 

AO— Air Observer, brief for naval aviation observer (tactical), an 
individual whose primary mission is to observe from light air- 
craft in order to adjust supporting arms fire and to obtain in- 

AO— Area of Operations 

AOA— Amphibious Objective Area, a defined geographical area wi- 
thin which is located the area or areas to be captured by an am- 
phibious task force. 

AOE — Fast Combat Support Ship. 

Apache — Call sign of "A" Troop, 7/1 Air Cavalry Squadron (ACS). 
APC— Armored Personnel Carrier. 
APD— Airborne Personnel Detector. 

Arc Light— Code name for B-52 bombing missions in South 

ARG— Amphibious Ready Group. 
ARUS— Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. 
Arty— Artillery. 

ARVN— Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), 
ASP— Ammunition Supply Point. 
ASPB— Assault Support Patrol Boat. 

ASRT— Air Support Radar Team, a subordinate operational com- 
ponent of a tactical air control system which provides ground- 
controlled precision flight path guidance and weapons release 
for attack aircraft. 

ATC— Armored Troop Carrier, nicknamed "Tango boat." 

ATCO— Air Transportation Coordination Officer. 

ATSB— Advanced Tactical Support Base. 

A/W— Automatic Weapons. 

Autumn Mist— A helicopter defoliation mission using one UH-I 
spray aircraft which may or may not be accompanied by a light 
fire team. 

Barrel Roll — Codename for air interdiction operations in Laos. 

B-3— North Vietnamese military command established in the Cen- 
tral Highlands of South Vietnam to control military operations 
in Kontum, Dar Lac, and Pleiku Provinces. 

B-40 — Communist rocket-propelled grenade launcher. 

B-5 — North Vietnamese military command established along rhe 
Demilitarized Zone. 

B-52 — Boeing Stratofortress, U.S. Air Force eight-engine jet, swept- 
wing heavy bomber. 

BA — Base Area. 

BCC — Border Control Centers. 

BDC — Base Defense Commander. 

BGen — Brigadier General. 

Bronco — Rockwell International OV-10, twin-engine, turboprop 

counterinsurgency aircraft. 
BIT— Battalion Landing Team. 
Bn — Battalion. 
Brig — Brigade. 




Bushmaster— An operation conducted by a company-sized unit in- 
serted into an area, to establish a clandestine base of operations 
and to interdict enemy infiltration routes using coordinated 
platoon-sized night ambushes. 

C-5 — Lockheed Galaxy, four-engine jet transport aitcraft. 
C-7 — De Havilland Caribou, twin-engine, propeller-driven rrans- 
porr aircraft. 

C-117 — Douglas Skytrain, a twin-engine, propeller-driven transport 
aircraft. The C-117 was an improved version of rhe C-47, the 
military version of the DC-3 

C-123 — Fairchild Provider, twin-engine, propeller-driven transport 

C-130— Lockheed Hercules, a four-engine, turboprop transport 

C-141— Lockheed Starlifter, a four-engine jet transporr aircraft. 
Capt — Captain. 

CARE — Co-operation for American Relief Everywhere. 

CAS — Close Air Support. 

CBU- Cluster Bomb Unit. 

CCB — Command and Communications Boar. 

CCC — Combined Campaign Plan. 

Cdr — Commander. 

CEC— Construction Engineer Corps. 

CG— Commanding General. 

CH-46— Boeing Vertol Sea Knight, a twin-engine, tandem-rotor 
transport helicopter, designed to carry a four-man crew and 17 
combat-loaded troops. 

CH-47 — Boeing Vertol Chinook, a twin-engine, tandem-rotor trans- 
port helicopter, designed to carry a four-man crew and 33 
combat-loaded troops. 

CH-53 — Sikorsky Sea Stallion, a twin-engine, single-rotor, heavy 
transport helicopter with an average payload of 12,800 pounds. 
Carries crew of three and 38 combat-loaded troops, 

ChiCom — Chinese Communist. 

Chieu Hoi— "Open Arms" program which welcomes returnees to 

the side of the Government of South Vietnam. 
CIA— Central Intelligence Agency. 
CICV— Combined Intelligence Center Vietnam. 
CID — Criminal Investigative Division. 

CIDG— Civilian Irregular Defense Groups, mercenaries of Viet- 
namese, Laotian, and Cambodian descent who fight primarily 
around their own villages, 

CinCPac — Commander in Chief, Pacific. 

CinCPacFlt— Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. 

CIT— Counter-intelligence Team. 

Class I, II, III, et al.— Categories of military supplies, e.g., Class 
I, rations; Class II, petroleum-oil-lubricants; Class V, ammu- 

Claymore — M18A1 U.S. directional antipersonnel mine. 
CMC — Commandant of the Marine Corps. 
CMD — Capital Military District. 

CMH— Center of Military History, Department of the Army. 

CNO — Chief of Naval Operations. 

.CO — Commanding Officer. 

COC — Combat Operations Center. 

Col — Colonel. 

Combat Skyspot— High-altitude, radar-directed, level-flight bomb- 
ing employing various types of aircraft. 
ComdC — Command Chronology. 

ComdHist— Command History 
Comm — Communications. 

ComNavEorPac— Commander, Naval Forces, Pacific. 
ComNavEorV— Commander, Naval forces, Vietnam. 
ComUSMACV— Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, 

ComUSMACThai— Commander, US. Military Activities Command, 

CORDS — Civil Operations Revolutionary Development Support. 
COSVN — Central Office of South Vietnam, the nominal Com- 
munist military and political headquarters in South Vietnam. 
CP— Command Post. 
CPX— Command Post Exercise. 

CRC— Control and Reporting Center, an element of the U.S. Air 
Fbrce tactical air control system, subordinate to the Tactical Air 
Control Center, which conducts radar and warning operations. 

CRS— Catholic Relief Service. 

CRDC — Central Revolutionary Development Council. 
CRIMP— Consolidated Republic of Vietnam Improvement and 

Modernization Plan. 
CRIP— Civilian Reconnaissance Intelligence Platoon. 
CS— Riot agent, also known as "tear gas." 
CSC — Communications Service Company. 
CTZ — Corps Tactical Zone. 
CV— Multipurpose aircraft carrier. 
CVA— Attack aircraft carrier. 
CZ— Coastal Zone. 

DAO — Defense Attache Office. 

DASC— Direct Air Support Center, a subordinate operational com- 
ponent of an air-control system designed for control of close air 
support and other direct air-support operations. 

DC-8 — McDonnell Douglas Jet Trader, a four-engine, jet cargo and 
passenger transport aircraft. 

D-Day— Day scheduled for the beginning of an operation, 

DD — Destroyer. 

DDG — Guided Missile Destroyer. 
DE — Escort Destroyer. 
DIA— Defense Intelligence Agency. 
Div— Division. 

DMZ — Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam, 
DOD — Department of Defense. 

DRV— Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). 
DSA— District Senior Advisor. 
DTA— Division Tactical Area. 
Dtd- Dated. 

DTZ— Division Tactical Zone. 

Duffel Bag— Acoustical sensors used for surveillance. 

Duster— Nickname for the U.S. M42 tracked vehicle which mounts 

dual 4umm automatic weapons. 
Dust Off— Medical evacuation by helicopter. 

EA-6 — Grumman Prowler, the electronic warfare version of the A-6A 

Eagle Flight— Air-cavalry-type operation using gunships and light 
helicopters to initiate contact, followed by helo insertions into 
contact areas. 

Eagle Float— Troops embarked on river assault craft (RAC) who are 
inserted into a battle area on command. 



EB-66 — Douglas Destroyer, twin-engine, jet, electronic warfare ver- 
sion of the B-66. 

EC-130 — Lockheed, a four-engine, turbo-prop, electronic warfare 
and communications version of the C-130 Hercules, 

ECM — Electronic Countermeasures, a major subdivision of electronic 
warfare involving actions against enemy electronic equipment 
or to exploit the use of electromagnetic radiations from such 

ECCM — Electronic Counter Countermeasures, the procedures and 
equipment used to protect communications and electronic 
equipment from interference or exploitation by an enemy. 

ELINT— Electronic Intelligence, the intelligence information gained 
by monitoring radiations from enemy electronic equipment. 

Engr— Engineer. 

ENIFF— Enemy Initiated Fire Fight. 
EOD — Explosive Ordnance Disposal. 

ETA, ETD— Estimated Time of Arrival and Estimated Time of 

F-4 — McDonnell Phantom II, a twin-engine, two-scat, long-range, 
all-weather jet interceptor and attack bomber. 

F-5 — Northrop Freedom Fighter, a rwin-engine, single-seat, jet fight- 
er aircraft. 

FAC — Forward Air Controller. 

FAC( A) — Forward Air Controller (Airborne). 

FANK— Force Armee Natwna/e Khmer, the Cambodian Army. 

FDC— Fire Direction Center. 

Firefly— A light fire team (LFT) with a flare or a light ship employed 

in a night airfield defense. 
FMFPac — Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. 
FO — Forward Observer. 

Freedom Deal — Codename for air operations in Cambodia, 
FRC — Federal Records Center. 

Front 4— Communist military headquarters responsible for Quang 

Nam Province. 
FSB — Fire Support Base. 

FSCC— Fire Support Coordination Center, a single location involved 

in the coordination of all forms of fire support. 
FSR— Force Service Regiment. 
Fwd — Forward. 

FWMAF— Free World Military Assistance Forces. 
FWMF— Free World Military Force. 
FY— Fiscal Year, for example "FY-72" 

G-l, -2, ct al — Military staff positions on a general staff, e g,, G-l 
would refer to the staff member re' jonsiblc for personnel; G-2, 
intelligence; G-3, operations; G-/ logistics; and G-5, civil affairs. 

Gen — General. 

Grenade Launcher— U.S. M79 or M203 single-shot, breech-loaded, 
shoulder weapon which fires 40mm projectiles and weighs ap- 
proximately 6.5 pounds when loaded; it has a susrained rate 
of aimed fire of five o seven rounds per minute and an effective 
range of 375 meters 

Gun, 175mm — U.S. M107 self-propelled gun which weighs 62,000 
pounds and fires a 147-pound projectile to a maximum range 
of 32,800 meters. Maximum rate of fire is one round every two 

GVN — Government of Vietnam (South Vietnam). 

H&I — Harassing and Interdiction fires. 

H&MS — Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron. 

H&S Co — Headquarters and Service Company. 

HC(A) — Helicopter Commander (Airborne). 

HDC — Helicopter Direction Center. 

HE — High Explosive. 

HEALT— Helicopter Employment And Landing Table. 

HH-3 — Sikorsky Sea King, a single-rotor, helicopter used for com- 
bat search and rescue. 

HH-53 — Sikorsky Sea Stallion, twin-engine, single-rotor helicop- 
ter used for search and rescue in combat configurations. 

H-Hour— Specific time an operation begins. 

HLZ — Helicopter Landing Zone. 

HMH — Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron. 

HMM — Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron, also the basis of com- 
posite squadrons with deployed forces. 

Hoi Chanh— A Chicu Hoi rallier. 

Hook— CH-47 helicopters from an assault supply company (ASHC). 

Howitzer, 8-inch — US, M55 self-propelled, heavy artillery piece with 
a maximum range of 16,900 meters and a rate of fire of one 
round every two minutes. 

Howitzer, 105mm — U.S. MlOlAl towed, general-purpose light ar- 
tillery piece with a maximum range of 11,000 meters and maxi- 
mum rate of fire of four rounds per minute. 

Howitzer, 155mm— U.S. M114A towed and M109 self-propelled 
medium artillery with a maximum range of 15,080 meters and 
a maximum rate of fire of three rounds per minute. The newer 
and heavier self-propelled M109 was largely road-bound, while 
the lighter, towed M114A could be moved either by truck or 
by helicopter, 

HST— Helicopter Support Team. 

Huey— Bell Iroquois UH-1 series of helicopters 

HQMC— Headquarters Marine Corps. 

ICCS — International Commission of Control and Supervision, es- 
tablished by the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 to supervise the 
implementation of the accords. Composed of members from 
Canada, Hungary, Poland, Indonesia, and Iran. 

I MAF— I Marine Amphibious Force. 

Intel — Intelligence. 

Inrvw— Interview. 

IOD— Integrated Observation Device. 
ITT— Interrogator/Translator Team. 

J-l, -2, et al. — Designation for members of a joint staff which in- 
cludes members of several Services. J-l refers to the staff mem- 
ber responsible for personnel; J-2, intelligence; J-3, operations; 
J-4, logistics; andJ-5, civil affairs. 

JCRC— Joint Casualty Resolution Center 

JCS -Joint Chiefs of Staff (U.S.). 

JGS— Joinr General Staff (South Vietnamese). 

JMC— Joint Military Commission. The Four Party JMC represent- 
ing the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the 
Provisional Revolutionary Government established by the 1973 
Paris Peace Accords. See also the Two Parry JMC of RVN and 
the PRG. 

JUSPAO -Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. 

K Ba' A platoon of gunships, one command and control ship, 



and at least five troop-carrying helicopters available for use by 

South Vietnamese provincial governments. 
KC-130— Lockheed, in-flight refueling tanker configuration of the 

C-130 Hercules. 
Khmer Rouge — Cambodian Communists. 
KIA— Killed in Action. 

Kit Carson Scouts— Former Viet Cong who came over to the South 
Vietnamese side and served with allied units. 

LAAW— U.S. M72 light antitank assault weapon, also know as light 

antitank weapon (LAW). 
LCC— Amphibious Command Ship. 

LCM— Landing Craft, Mechanized, designed to land tanks, trucks, 
and trailers direcdy onto the beach. Also known as a "Mike boat." 
LCPL— Landing Craft, Personnel, Large. 
LCU — Landing Craft, Utility. 

ICVP— Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel, a small craft with a bow 

ramp used to transport assault troops and light vehicles to the 

beach. Also known as a "Papa boat." 
LGB — Laser Guided Bomb, popularly known as "smart bombs." 
kHour— The specific time helicopters land in a helicopter landing 

zone (USMC); launch hour, when an aircraft leaves the ground 


Linebacker— Codename for the air and surface intetdiction opera- 
tions against North Vietnam in 1972. 
LKA— Amphibious Cargo Ship. 
LOG— Lines of Communication. 
LOH— OH-6 Light Observation Helicopter. 
LOI — Letter of Instruction. 

LORAN— Long Range Navigation, a system of radio stations at 
known positions used for air and sea guidance, 

LPD —Amphibious Transport Dock, a ship designed to transport 
and land troops, equipment, and supplies by means of embarked 
landing craft, amphibious vehicles, and helicopters. It has both 
a submersible well deck and a helicopter landing deck. 

LPH — Amphibious Assault Ship, a ship designed or modified to 
transport and land troops, equipment, and supplies by means 
of embarked helicopters. 

LRRP— Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. 

LSA— Logistic Support Area. 

LSD— Landing Ship Dock, a landing ship designed to combat load, 
transport, and launch amphibious crafts or vehicles together with 
crews and embarked personnel, and to provide limited dock- 
ing and repair services to small ships and crafts. It lacks the 
helicopter landing deck of the LPD. 

LST— Tank Landing Ship, a landing ship designed to transport heavy 
vehicles and to land them on a beach. 

LSU — Logistics Support Unit. 

Lt— Lieutenant. 

LtCol — Lieutenant Colonel. 

LTDS— Laser Target Designation System. 

LtGen — Lieutenant General. 

Ltr— Letter. 

LUFT— Light fire team (two helicopter gunships). 

LVTC — Landing Vehicle, Hacked, Command, an amphibian vehi- 
cle fitted with radios for use as a command and control facility. 

LVTE — Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Engineer, a lightly armored am- 
phibian vehicle designed for minefield and obstacle clearance. 

LVTP— Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel; an amphibian vehicle 
used to land or transport personnel. 

LZ— Landing Zone. 

MAB — Marine Amphibious Brigade. 
MABLEx— MAB Landing Exercise. 
MABS — Marine Air Base Squadron. 
MAC — Military Airlift Command. 

Machine Gun, .50 Caliber — U.S. M2 belt -fed, recoil-operated, air- 
cooled automatic weapon, which weighs approximately 80 
pounds without mount or ammunition; it has a sustained rate 
of fire of 100 rounds per minute and an effective range of 1,450 

Machine Gun, 7.62mm — U.S. M60 belt-fed, gas-operated, air- 
cooled, automatic weapon, which weighs approximately 20 
pounds without mount or ammunition; it has a sustained rate 
of fire of 100 rounds per minute and an effective range of 1,000 

MACS — Marine Air Control Squadron, provides and operates 
ground facilities for the detection and interception of hostile 
aircraft and for the navigational direction of friendly aircraft in 
the conduct of support operations. 

MACV— Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. 

MAF— Marine Amphibious force, currently "MEF" (Marine Expedi- 
tionary Force), 

MAG — Marine Aircraft Group. 

Main Force— Refers to organized Viet Cong battalions and regiments 

as opposed to local guetrilla groups. 
Maj — Major. 

MajGen — Major General, 

MAP— Military Assistance Program. 

MarDiv— Marine Division. 

Marines— Designates an infantry regiment, e.g., 3d Marines. 

M ASF— Military Assistance Service Funded. 

MASS — Marine Air Support Squadron, provides and operates fa- 
cilities for the control of support aircraft operating in direct sup- 
port of ground forces. 

MAU — Marine Amphibious Unit, not to be confused with the Ma- 
rine Advisory Unit of the Naval Advisory Group which ad- 
ministered the advisory effort to the South Vietnamese Marine 

MarAdvU— Marine Advisory Unit. 
MAW- Marine Aitcraft Wing. 
MCAF— Marine Corps Air Facility. 
MCAS — Marine Corps Air Station. 
MCCC — Marine Corps Command Center. 
MCO — Marine Corps Order. 

MCOAG — Marine Corps Operations Analysis Group of the Centet 

for Naval Analyses (CNA). 
MCSA— Marine Corps Supply Agency. 
MedCAP— Medical Civic Action Program. 
MedEvac — Medical Evacuation. 

MEDTC — Military Equipment Delivery Team, Cambodia. 
MIA— Missing in Action. 

MiG — Mikoyan-Gurevich-designed Soviet aircraft. 
MilCAP— Military Civic Action Program. 

Mini-Dust— Two or more helicopter spray ships accompanied by one 
or more light fire teams and employed in enemy base areas. 

Mini-Package— A platoon of gunships, one command and control 
ship, and at least five troop-carrying helicopters available for 
the use of South Vietnamese provincial governments. 

MO — Mount Out, loaded and ready classes of supplies for contin- 
gency use by amphibious forces, 

MOA— Mount Out Augmentation. 



ModLoc — Modified Location, radius around a specified point from 
which naval ships may transit while waiting employment. 

Monitor— Heavily armored LCM-6 -with 40mm cannon, 105mm 
howitzer, or flame gun. 

Mortar, 4,2 inch — U.S. M30 rifled, muzzle-loaded, drop-fired 
weapon consisting of tube, base-plate, and standard; weapon 
weighs 330 pounds and has maximum range of 4,020 meters. 
Rate of fire is 20 rounds per minute. Also known as the ' four 

Mortar, 60mm — U.S. M19 smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded weapon, 
which weighs 45 .2 pounds when assembled It has a maximum 
rate of fire of 30 rounds per minute and sustained rate of fire 
of 18 rounds per minute; the effective range is 2,000 meters. 

Mortar, 81mm— U.S. M29 smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded weapon, 
which weighs approximately 115 pounds when assembled; it has 
a sustained rate of fire of two rounds per minute and an effec- 
tive range of 2,300-3,650 meters, depending upon ammunition 

Mortar, 82mm — Communist smooth-bore, single-shot, high angle 
of fire weapon which weighs approximately 123 pounds; it has 
a maximum rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute and a maxi- 
mum range of 3,040 meters. 

Mortar, 120mm — Communist smooth-bore, drop- or trigger-fired, 
weapon which weighs approximately 600 pounds; it has a max- 
imum rate of fire of 15 rounds per minute and a maximum range 
of 5,700 meters. 

MR— Military Region; South Vietnamese army corps tactical zones 
were redesignated military regions in 1970, e.g., I Corps Tacti- 
cal Zone (ICTZ) became Military Region 1 (MR 1). 

MRB— Mobile Riverine Base. 

MRF— Mobile Riverine Force. 

MR-3 — Communist political and military sector in South Vietnam, 
including all of MR 1 (I Corps). NVA units in MR-5 did not 
report to COSVN. 

Ms — Manuscript. 

MSB — Mine Sweeper Boat. 

MSC — Military Sealift Command. 

MSD — Mine Sweeper Drone. 

MSG — Marine Security Guard. 

Msg— Message. 

NAG — Naval Advisory Group. 

Nail -Call sign for USAF OV-10 aircraft. 

NAS — Naval Air Station. 

NATOPS — Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardi- 

NavLE — Naval Liaison Element. 
NCC — Naval Component Commander. 
NCO — Noncommissioned Officer. 
NEC 1 — Noncombatant Evacuation Operation. 
NGLO — Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer. 
NGS — Naval Gunfire Support, 
NILO — Naval Intelligence Liaison Officer. 
NKP— U.S. Air Force designation for Nakhon Phanom Air Base, 

NLF— National Liberation Front, the political arm of the 
Communist-led insurgency against the South Vietnamese 

NMCB — Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, whose members are 
known as "SeaBees." 

NMCC — National Military Command Center. 
NOD — Night Observation Device. 
NPFF— National Police Field Force. 
NSA— Naval Support Activity. 
NSD — Naval Supply Depot. 
Nui— Vietnamese word for hill or mountain. 
Nung — Southeast Asian tribesman, of a ethnic group of probably 
Chinese origin. 

NVA— North Vietnamese Army, the Peoples Army of Vietnam 
(PAVN); often used colloquially to refer to a single North Viet- 
namese soldier. 

O-l — Cessna Bird Dog, single-engine, propeller-driven observation 

0-2 — Cessna Skymaster, dual-engine, propeller-driven observation 

OH-6 — Hughes Cayuse, single-rotor light helicopter used for armed 
reconnaissance and observation Also known as a "Loach." 

OH-58 — Bell Kiowa, single-rotor light helicopter used for armed 
reconnaissance and observation. 


OpCon — Operational Control, the authority granted to a com- 
mander to direct forces assigned for specific missions or tasks 
which are usually limited by function, time, or location. 

OpO — Operation Order, a directive issued by a commander to 
subordinate commanders for the execution of an operation. 

OP— Observation Post. 

OPlan — Operation Plan, a plan for a single or series of connected 
operations to be carried out simultaneously or in succession; it 
is the form of directive employed by higher authority to permit 
subordinate commanders to prepare supporting plans and orders. 

OpSum — Operational Summary. 

OV-10 — North American Rockwell Bronco, twin-engine, turboprop 
observation and light attack aircraft. 

Paddy Control— Air Force Tactical Radar Control Center for the 
Mekong River Delta, located at Binh Thuy Air Base. 

P-3 — Lockheed Orion, four-engine, turboprop naval patrol aircraft. 

PAT— People's Action Team or Political Action Team. 

PATMA— Pacific Air Traffic Management Agency. 

Pave Nail —Call sign for USAF OV-10 with laser-designator to con- 
trol precision guided munitions. 

PAVN — Peoples Army of Vietnam (North Vietnam), This acronym 
was dropped by the Americans in favor of NVA. 

PBR- Patrol Boat River. 

PCF— Patrol Craft Fast, known as a "Swift Boat." 
Pegasus — CH-47 helicopters employed on a standby basis to drop 
bulk riot agent, 

PF— Popular Force, Vietnamese militia who were usually employed 

in the defense of their own communities. 
PG— Patrol Gunboat. 

PGM — Precision-guided munitions, so-called "smart bombs." 

P1IC— Photo Imagery Interpretation Center. 

Platoon of Gunships— Two light fire teams (four helicopter 

POL— Petroleum. Oil, and Lubricants. 
PolWar-Political Warfare. 
POW- Prisoner of War. 

PRC25 — Standard very-high-frequency radio used by Marine ground 



units in Vietnam for voice communication over distances up to 
25 miles. 

PRU — Provincial Reconnaissance Unit. 
PSA— Provincial Sector Advisor. 

PRG — People's Revolutionary Government (Viet Cong). 
ProvMAG— Provisional Marine Aircraft Group, 
PSA— Province Senior Advisor. 
PsyOps — Psychological Operations. 

QL— Vietnamese acronym for national highway. 

RaBFAC — Radar Beacon for forward Air Control. 
RAD — River Assault Division. 
RAG — River Assault Group. 
R&R— Rest and Relaxation. 

RAID — River Assault and Interdiction Division (North Vietnam). 
RAS— River Assault Squadron. 

Recoilless Rifle, 106mm — U.S. M40 single-shot, recoilless, breech- 
loaded weapon which weighs 438 pounds when assembled and 
mounted for firing; it has a sustained rate of fire of six rounds 
per minute and an effective range of 1,365 metets. 

Regt — Regiment. 

RF— Regional Farce, Vietnamese militia who were employed in a 
specific region. 

RF-4 — Photographic-reconnaissance model of the F4B Phantom. 

RF-8A— Vought reconnaissance version of the F-8 Ctusader. 

Rifle, M14— US. gas-operated, magazine-fed, air-cooled, semi- 
automatic, 7.62mm shoulder weapon, which weighs 12 pounds 
with a full 20-round magazine; it has a sustained rate of fire 
of 30 rounds per minute and an effective range of 500 yards. 

Rifle, Ml6— U.S. gas-operated, magazine-fed, air-cooled, automatic, 
5.56mm shoulder weapon, which weighs 3.1 pounds with a 
20-round magazine; it has a sustained tate of fire of 12-15 rounds 
per minute and an effective range of 460 meters. 

RLT— Regimental Landing Team. 

ROK-Republic of Korea. 

Rolling Thunder— Codename for initial U S. air operations over 

North Vietnam. 
ROE— Rules of Engagement. 

Route Packages — Numbered air control areas fot the American 

bombing campaign in North Vietnam. 
RPG— Rocket Propelled Gtenade. 
RR— Rural Reconstruction. 
RSSZ— Rung Sat Special Zone. 
RVN— Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). 
RVNAF— Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces. 
RZ— Reconnaissance Zone. 

S-l, -2, et al.— Refers to staff positions On regimental and battalion 
levels. S-l would refer to the staff member responsible for per- 
sonnel; S-2, intelligence; S-3, operations, S-4, logistics; and S-5, 
civil affairs. 

SAC— Strategic Air Command. 

SACC — Supporting Arms Control Center. 

SAM— Surface to Air Missile. 

SAR— Search and Rescue. 

SATS — Short Airfield for Tactical Support, an expeditionary airfield 

used by Marine Corps aviation that includs a portable runway 
surface, aircraft launching and recovery devices, and other es- 
sential components. 

SCAMP— Sensor Control and Management Platoon. 

Sea-Lords — Codename for Southeast Asia naval campaign. 

Seal— Sea, Air, Land, special six- to eight-man naval intelligence 
gathering detachment. 

SEATO — Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. 

Seawolves — Naval helicopter gunships operating as light or heavy 
fire teams. 

SecDef— Secretary of Defense. 

SecState — Secretary of State. 

SeventhAF— Seventh Air Farce, the major US Air Force command 
in Southeast Asia. 

SeventhFlt— The U.S. Navy fleet assigned to the Western Pacific. 

Shadow— C-119 aircraft with four 7.62mm miniguns and illumi- 

SID — Seismic Intrusion Device, sensor used to monitor movement 

through ground vibrations. 
SitRep — Situation Report. 

SKS — Simonov-designed, gas-operated, 7.62mm semiautomatic 

Slick-UH-IB helicopter. 

SM A— Senior Marine Advisor. 

SOG— Special Operations Gtoup, MACVs joint unconventional 

warfare task force. 
Song— Vietnamese for river 

SOP— Standing Operating Procedure, set of instructions laying out 

standardized procedures. 
Sortie— An operational flight by one aircraft. 
SOS — Special Operations Squadton. 
SOW— Special Operations Wing. 

Spectre — C-130 aircraft with 20mm and 40mm miniguns, illumi- 
nation, and infrared television for night observation support of 

SPG — Special Planning Group. 

Spooky— C-47 aircraft with four 7.62mm miniguns and flare illu- 
mination capability for night support of troops in contact. 
SptRept — Spot Report. 
SRF— Ship Repair Facility. 

SSB — Swimmer Support Boat, also known as a "Skimmer." 
Stinger— C-119K aircraft with 20mm miniguns and illumination 

used for night observation in support of troops. 
SVN — South Vietnam. 

Swing Ship— UH-lD helicopter assigned to different sectors for ad- 
ministrative use. 

TA-4 — McDonnell Douglas Skyhawk, dual-seat version of the A-4 
used as trainer and FAC/TAC platform. 

T-39— North American Rockwell Sabreliner, twin-engine jet used 
as ttainer and passenger airctaft. 

TAC( A)— Tactical Air Coordinator (Airborne), a designated avia- 
tor who controls and coordinates air support from an airctaft. 

TACC— Tactical Air Control Center, the principal air operations in- 
stallation for controlling all aircraft and air-warning functions 
of tactical air operations. 

TACP— Tactical Air Control Party, a subordinate operational com- 
ponent of a tactical air control system designed to provide air 
liaison to land forces and for the control of aircraft. 

TADC— Tactical Air Direction Centet, an air operations installation 



under the Tactical Air Conrrol Center, which directs aircraft ad 
aircraft warning functions of the radical air center. 

TAFDS— Tactical Airfield Fuel Dispensing System, rhe expedition- 
ary srorage and dispensing sysrem for aviarion fuel ar tactical 
air fields. It uses 10,000-gallon fabric tanks ro store the fuel. 

TAOC— Tacrical Air Opetarions Cenrer, a subordinare componenr 
of the air command and conrrol system which controls all air 
rraffic and air defense operations. 

Tank, M48 — U.S. 50.7-ton tank wirh a crew of four; primary arma- 
ment is a turret-mounred 90mm gun with one ,30-caliber and 
one 50-caliber machine gun; has maximum road speed of 32 
miles per hour and an average range of 195 miles. 

TAOC— Tacrical Air Operarions Cenrer, a subordinare componenr 
of the air command and conrrol system which controls all air 
traffic and air defense operations. 

TAOI— Tacrical Area of Inreresr. 

TAOR— Tactical Area of Responsibility, a defined area of land for 
which responsibility is specifically assigned to a commander for 
conrrol of assigned forces and coordination of support. 

TASS— Tactical Air Support Squadron. 

TCN— Third Country Narional. 

TE— Table of Equipment. 

TE— Task Element. 

TF— Task Force. 

TG— Task Group. 

Tiger Hound — Codename for air operations in Laos. 
TO— Table of Organizarion. 

TOW-U S. M220 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided 

antitank missile system. 
Trail Dust— Ait Fotce C-123 dispensing defolianr or crop destruc- 

rion chemical. 

TSN— Tan Son Nhur, U.S. Air Force designation for Sourh Vier- 

namese air base. 
TU Task Unit. 

U-21— Beechcraft King Air, twin-engine, rurboprop utiliry and pas- 
senger aircraft. 
UCMJ — Unifotm Code of Military Justice. 

UH-1 — Bell Iroquois, single-roror, lighr helicopter noted for its 
maneuverability and firepower; carries a crew of three; it can 
be armed with air-ro-ground rocker packs and fuselage-mounted, 
electrically fited machine guns. Also known as a "Huey." 

USA— United Stares Army. 

USAAG — US. Army Advisory Group. 

USAF— Unired Srares Air Force. 

USAID — U.S. Agency for Inrernational Development 

USARV-U.S. Army, Vietnam. 

USASuppCom — U.S. Army Support Command. 

USIA— U.S. Informarion Agency. 

USIS — U.S. Information Service. 

USMC — Unired Srares Marine Corps. 

USN-Unired States Navy. 

USSAG/SeventhAF— United States Suppott Activities 

Group/Seventh Ait Fotce. 
VC— Viet Cong. 

Vier Cong— Term used ro refer to the Communist guerrillas in South 
Vietnam adhering to the NLF and PRG; a contraction of the 
Vietnamese phtase meaning "Vietnamese Communists." 

VCC— Viet Cong Captured. 

VCI— Vier Cong Infrasrructure. 

VIS— Vietnamese Infotmation Service (Sourh Viernam). 
VMA— Marine Attack Squadron. 
VMF(AW)-Marine Fighrer Squadron (All-Wearher). 
VMFA— Marine Fighter Attack Squadron. 
VMCJ — Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron. 
VMGR— Marine Refueler Transport Squadron. 
VMO — Marine Observation Squadron. 
VN— Vietnam or Vietnamese. 

VNAF— Vietnamese Air Fotce ot Vietnamese Armed Forces. 
VNMC— Vietnamese Marine Corps. 

VNMC LSB— Vietnamese Marine Cotps Logistics Support Btanch 

of the Navy Division, US. Defense Attache Office, Saigon. 
VNN— Vietnamese Navy. 

VT— Variable timed electronic fuze for an artillery shell which causes 
airbursr over the rarger area. 

WestPac— Western Pacific. 
WIA-Wounded in Action. 

Wild Weasel — Codename for special techniques and aircraft used 

to suppteSS radar systems. 
WFRC— Washington Federal Records Center. 

Zippo— Flame thrower equipped ATC or monitor 

Appendix G 

Chronology of Significant Events 
July 1971- September 1973 


1 July Start of the Consolidation 1 Campaign. 
9 July American forces are no longer obligated to defend the region 
south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel. 
The U.S. military had moved into this area in 1966 to reinforce 
the 1954 Geneva Convention agreement, prohibiting ground or 
artillery attacks from this buffer zone. 
9-11 July National Security Advisor Dr. Henry A. Kissinger visits China. 
12 July American troop strength in South Vietnam is at 236,000, 

decreasing at a rate of about 14,000 a month. 
19 July Redeployment of all major Marine Corps units from South 
Vietnam is completed. 
18 August Australia and New Zealand announce the withdrawal of their 

combat forces from Southeast Asia. 
25 August The Army's 173d Airborne Brigade withdraws from South 

27 August The Army's 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) 
withdraws from Vietnam. It had operated along the western 
area of the DMZ since January 1971. 
8 October Operation Jefferson Glenn concludes, the last significant opera- 
tion that included U.S. ground forces. 

12 November President Richard M. Nixon announces that American military 
forces are now taking a purely defensive stance, leaving the 
offensive role entirely up to the South Vietnamese. 

29 November An aid agreement with the Soviets is signed by the North 
Vietnamese in Moscow. 
1 December Start of the Consolidation II Campaign. 

26 December President Nixon allows the resumption of the bombing of 
North Vietnam as peace talks stall. 

31 December The strength of the American forces in South Vietnam is down 
to 156,800. As of this date, 45,626 American military had 
been killed in action. 


1 January General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., Commandant of the Marine 

Corps, is succeeded by General Robert E. Cushman, Jr. 
12 January Long Cheng, Laos, captured by Communist fotces using ar- 
tillery and armor. 

25 January New allied peace plan is announced by President Nixon and 
President Nguyen Van Thieu. 




21 February President Nixon arrives for talks in China. This results in 
changes in U.S. Pacific strategy. 

10 March Lon Nol is declared President of Cambodia. The U.S. 101st Air- 
borne Division (Airmobile) withdraws from South Vietnam, 
the last Army division to leave. 

23 March The Paris peace talks are suspended at the behest of the 

American delegation, to be resumed when the North Viet- 
namese will engage in deliberations on specific topics. 

30 March The Communist Nguyen-Hue Offensive commences with major 
attacks across the DMZ. The Vietnam Ceasefire Campaign 

1 April Marine landing forces and amphibious ready groups of the 

Seventh Fleet arrive off Military Region 1. 
3 April Marine reconnaissance squadron detachment arrives at Cubi 

Point, Philippines to support renewed air operations. 

5 April The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attacks Loc Ninh in Mili- 

tary Region 3- 

6 April Marine Aircraft Group 15 arrives at Da Nang. Lieutenant 

General John D. Lavelle, USAF, is recalled from command of 
the Seventh Air Force for exceeding rules of engagement 

7 April Loc Ninh is captured and An Loc is encircled by the NVA. The 

bombing of North Vietnam is resumed as Freedom Train and 
Linebacker Operations. The French Government is petitioned 
by the North Vietnamese in Paris to try to halt American 

8 April The 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade arrives in the Tonkin 


15 April The bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in North Vietnam is re- 
sumed for the first time since 1?68. Bombing restrictions are 
lifted for most other targets. 
15-20 April A wave of protests occurs in the United States as a result of 
the increase in fighting in Southeast Asia. 
23 April NVA captures Dak To in Military Region 2. 
27 April Major NVA attacks occur against Quang Tri City in Military 
Region 1. The Paris peace talks are resumed. 
28 April-2 May NVA attacks on outlying defences of Hue in Military Region 1. 
1 May NVA captures Quang Tri City. 

3 May NVA/NLF capture Bong Son in Military Region 2. 

4 May The Paris talks are again suspended indefinitely by the Ameri- 

can and South Vietnamese delegations after the l49th session. 
8 May Haiphong and other North Vietnamese harbors are mined by 
the U.S. Navy. President Nixon offers to withdraw all U.S. 
forces within four months of a ceasefire agreement. 
14 May-25 May Major NVA attacks on Kontum in Military Region 2. 

16 May Marine Aircraft Group 12 arrives at Bien Hoa. 

19 May Soviet and Chinese delegations arrive in Hanoi to discuss sup- 
port measures. 
22 May President Nixon visits Moscow. 

17 June Washington, D.C., office of Democratic National Committee is 



21 June 

18 June 

19 June 
26 June 

28 June 

29 June 

13 July 
22 July-15 August 

18-19 August 

I September 

16 September 
26-27 September 

8 October 
19-20 October 
24 October 

7 November 

II November 

20-21 November 

13 December 

14 December 

18-29 December 
31 December 

American troop strength in South Vietnam down to 60,000. 
First Marine combat sorties flown from Nam Phong, Thailand. 
An Loc is relieved by South Vietnamese forces. 
South Vietnamese counteroffensive begins in Military Region 2. 
The 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) withdraws 
from Vietnam. 

South Vietnamese counteroffensive begins in Military Region 1. 
The 196th Infantry Brigade withdraws from Vietnam, the final 
Army ground combat unit to leave. General Fredrick C. 
Weyand, USA, becomes Commander of the U.S. Military As- 
sistance Command Vietnam, succeeding General Creighton W. 
Abrams, USA. 

The Paris peace talks are resumed. 

The 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade conducts flood relief 
operations in the Philippines. 

NVA attack Que Son and capture Fire Support Base Ross in 
Military Region 1. 

Admiral Noel A. M. Gayler, USN, becomes Commander in 
Chief of the Pacific Command, replacing Admiral John S. 
McCain, Jr., USN. 

Quang Tri City is recaptured by South Vietnamese forces. 
More private talks are held between Dr. Kissinger and the 
North Vietnamese representatives in Paris. 
A breakthrough in peace talks is announced by Dr. Kissinger. 
Dr. Kissinger and President Thieu hold discussions in Saigon. 
Operation Linebacker I ends as bombing north of the 20th 
parallel is curtailed as a peace gesture. 

In U.S. Presidential elections, President Nixon defeats Senator 
George S. McGovern. 

Direct U S- Army participation in the war concludes with relin- 
quishment of the logistical base at Long Binh to the South 

More private talks are held between Dr. Kissinger and Le Due 
Tho to design a final peace agreement. 

Talks between Dr. Kissinger and Le Due Tho reach a standstill. 
President Nixon warns he will resume bombing if negotiations 
are not resumed. 

Operation Linebacker II is launched against Hanoi and 

Haiphong, the "Christmas Bombing." 

American troop strength in South Vietnam is at 24,200. 


8-12 January Dr. Kissinger and Le Due Tho proceed with their private talks. 

15 January With progress in peace talks, President Nixon declares an end 
to all U.S. offensive opetations against North Vietnam. 

25 January Joint Homecoming Reception Center activated at Clark Air 
Force Base, Philippines. 

27 January The Americans and North Vietnamese sign the Patis Peace Ac- 
cords. The conclusion of the military draft is announced by the 
Department of Defense. 


28 January The Ceasefire Campaign ends as the final withdrawal of allied 
forces from South Vietnam begins. 

30 January Melvin R. Laird is succeeded by Elliot L. Richardson as the 

Secretary of Defense. 
21 February A ceasefire is reached in Laos. 

25 February Task Force Delta commences combat sorties in Cambodia. 

31 January Operation End Sweep mineclearing begins. 

14 March Sub Unit One, 1st ANGLICO, the last Marine unit to leave 
Vietnam, is transferred to Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. 

29 March The headquarters of the U.S. Military Assistance Command 

Vietnam is closed. Marine advisory effort ends. The release of 
prisoners of war by the Communists and the departure of all 
American forces from South Vietnam is completed. 
4 April Joint Homecoming Reception Center reverts to a standby 

22 May Dr. Kissinger and Le Due Tho conclude their discussions on 
Vietnam truce agreement. 

13 June A new treaty is signed by the Americans, South Vietnamese, 

National Liberation Front, and the North Vietnamese in an at- 
tempt to strengthen the ceasefire. 

24 June Ellsworth Bunker is replaced by Graham A. Martin as U-S. 
Ambassador to South Vietnam. 
2 July Elliot Richardson is followed by James R. Schlesinger as Secre- 
tary of Defense. 

14 August Congress declares the cessation of all U.S.-funded military ac- 
tion in Southeast Asia. Marine air combat operations from 
Nam Phong end. 

21 September Marines depart Nam Phong. 

22 September William P. Rogers is replaced by Dr. Kissinger as Secretary of 

State. Dr. Kissinger continues his post as National Security 

Appendix H 

Medal of Honor and Navy Cross Citations 

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF 
HONOR posthumously to 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while in- 
terned as a Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 31 December 
1964 to 8 December 1967. Despite the fact that by so doing he knew he would bring about hasher treatment 
for himself. Colonel (then Captain) Cook established himself as the senior prisoner, even though in actuality 
he was not. Repeatedly assuming more than his share of the manual labor in order that the other Prisoners 
of War could improve the state of their health, Colonel Cook willingly and unselfishly put the interests of 
his comrades before that of his own well-being and, eventually, his life. Giving more needy men his medicine 
and drug allowance while constantly nursing them, he risked infection from contagious diseases while in a 
rapidly deteriorating state of health. This unselfish and exemplary conduct, coupled with his refusal to stray 
even the slightest from the Code of Conduct, earned him the deepest respect from not only his fellow prisoners, 
but his captors as well. Rather than negotiate for his own release or better treatment, he steadfastly frustrated 
attempts by the Viet Cong to break his indomitable spirit, and passed this same resolve on to the men with 
whose well-being he so closely associated himself. Knowing his refusals would prevent his release prior to the 
end of the war, and also knowing his chances for prolonged survival would be small in the event of continued 
refusal, he chose nevertheless to adhere to a Code of Conduct far above that which could be expected. His 
personal valor and exceptional spirit of loyalty in the face of almost certain death reflected the highest credit 
upon Colonel Cook, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service. 


for service as set forth in the following 





The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS to 


for service as set forth in the following 


For extraordinary heroism on 11 July 1972 while serving as Senior Advisor to the 1st Vietnamese Marine Corps 
Infantry Battalion during a heliborne assault into enemy-held territory northeast of Quang Tri City, Republic 
of Vietnam. When the battalion encountered unexpectedly heavy enemy fire while disembarking into the landing 
zone, and sustained numerous casualties, Captain Livingston moved throughout the hasty positions taken by 
the scattered and hesitant element and formed the Marines into an assault force. Despite the continuing heavy 
concentration of hostile fire, he began the assault on the initial objective — a treeline approximately 50 yards 
distant. Although blown from his feet by explosions and periodically delayed to reform and redirect his casualty- 
riddled force, he forged ahead, leading the Vietnamese Marines into the enemy-infested trench lines of the 
objective and a subsequent hand-to-hand battle. Upon seizure of the initial portion of the trenchline, Captain 
Livingston shed his combat equipment, emerged from the trenchline, and exposed himself to a hail of enemy 
fire to reach and carry his wounded naval gunfire spotter to a position of relative safety. Captain Livingston's 
repeated acts of heroism in the face of heavy fire reflected great credit upon him and the Marine Corps and 
were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. 



The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to 


for service as set forth in the following 


For extraordinary heroism on 2 April 1972 while serving as the Senior Marine Advisor to the 3d Vietnamese 
Marine Corps Infantry Battalion in the Republic of Vietnam. Upon receipt of a report that a rapidly moving, 
mechanized, North Vietnamese army force, estimated at a reinforced divisional strength, was attacking south 
along Route 1, the 3d Vietnamese Marine Infantry Battalion was positioned to defend a key village in the sur- 
rounding area. It became imperative that a vital river bridge be destroyed if the overall security of the northern 
provinces of Military Region 1 was to be maintained. Advancing to the bridge to personally supervise this most 
dangerous but vitally important assignment, Captain Ripley located a large amount of explosives which had 
been prepositioned there earlier, access to which was blocked by a chain-link fence. In order to reposition the 
approximately 500 pounds of explosive, Captain Ripley was obliged to reach up and hand-walk along the beams 
while his body dangled beneath the bridge. On five separate occasions, in the face of constant enemy fire, 
he moved to points along the bridge and with the aid of another advisor who pushed the explosives to him, 
securely emplaced them. He detonated the charges and destroyed the bridge, thereby stopping the enemy as- 
sault. By his heroic actions and extraordinary courage, Captain Ripley undoubtedly was instrumental in saving 
an untold number of lives. His inspiring efforts reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and 
the United States Naval Service. 



The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to 


for service as set forth in the following 


For extraordinary heroism during the period 30 March to 1 April 1972 while serving as advisor to a Viet- 
namese command group numbering approximately 250 Vietnamese Marines located on a small hilltop outpost 
in the Republic of Vietnam. With the command group repulsing several savage enemy assaults, and subjected 
to a continuing hail of fire from an attacking force estimated to be of two-battalion strength, Captain Smith 
repeatedly exposed himself to the heavy fire while directing friendly air support. When adverse weather condi- 
tions precluded further close air support, he attempted to lead the group, now reduced to only 28 Vietnamese 
Marines, to the safety of friendly lines. An enemy soldier opened fire upon the Marines at the precise moment 
that they had balked when encountering an outer defense ring of barbed wire. Captain Smith returned ac- 
curate fire, disposing of the attacker, and then threw himself backwards on top of the booby-trap-infested wire 
barrier. Swiftly, the remaining Marines moved over the crushed wire, stepping on Captain Smith's prostrate 
body, until all had passed safely through the barrier. Although suffering severe cuts and bruises, Captain Smith 
succeeded in leading the Marines to the safety of friendly lines. His great personal valor and unrelenting devo- 
tion to duty reflected the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service. 

Appendix I 

FMF Pacific Command Relationships, 1971 






7 Ih FLT 

1st FIT 

TF 79/111 UAF 

IE 79.2/3dMARDIV[ |[REIN| 

16 79.3/1St MAW 

IE 79.4/3IS1 Mill 


HMM[-][REIM | I 

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IE 79.6/3d FSR 



HAF/IF 19 

3d maw 

1st MARDIVI ■ |(REiMl 

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1st ANGL1CQ |-! 







Adapted from FMFPac ComdC, Jan-Jun71 

Appendix J 

USMACV Command Relationships, 1971 



I I u 

A-r— 5=* 


L >H a: 




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1 o I 

8 ° 25 2 

z z hu fc= 
oo o <1 J 



s * 

J" g 

Ex ^ 



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Adapted from MACV ComdHut 71, Vol I. 


Appendix K 

Vietnamese Marine Division, 



> ■« 

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fe X 


I 3 


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Appendix L 

List of Reviewers 


Gen Louis H. Wilson, Jr., USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Leslie E. Brown, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Clyde D. Dean, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Joseph C. Fegan, Jr., USMC (Ret) 
LtGen D'Wayne Gray, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen William K. Jones, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Louis Metzger, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Edward J. Miller, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Andrew W. O'Donnell, USMC (Ret) 
LtGen Donn J. Robertson, USMC (Ret) 

MajGen Victor A. Armstrong, USMC (Ret) 
MajGen Walter E. Boomer, USMC 
MajGen William P. Eshelman, USMC 
MajGen Donald R. Gardner, USMC 
MajGen Kenneth J. Houghton, USMC (Ret) 

BGen Darrel E. Bjorklund, USMC (Ret) 
BGen Walter D. Fillmore, USMC (Ret) 
BGen Paul G. Graham, USMC (Ret) 
BGen Manning T. Jannell, USMC (Ret) 
BGen Jim R. Joy, USMC (Ret) 

Col Kent C. Bateman, USMC (Ret) 
Col John W. Clayborne, USMC (Ret) 
Col Patrick G. Collins, USMC (Ret) 
Col John D. Cummings, USMC 
Col Kenneth G. Fiegener, USMC (Ret) 
Col Herbert G. Fischer, USMC (Ret) 
Col Charles H. Gallina, USMC 
Col Charles J. Goode, Jr., USMC (Ret) 
Col Richard E. Hawes, Jr., USMC (Ret) 
Col Leo J. Kelly, USMC (Ret) 
Col Robert W. Kirby, USMC (Ret) 
Col Raymond M. Kostesky, USMC (Ret) 
Col Jerry W. Marvel, USMC (Ret) 
Col Edison W. Miller, USMC (Ret) 
Col Robert J. Perrich, USMC (Ret) 
Col Donald L. Price, USMC 

Col John M. Rapp, USMC (Ret) 

Col Richard D. Revie, USMC (Ret) 

Col John W. Ripley, USMC 

Col Donald E. Schneider, USMC (Ret) 

Col James L. Shanahan, USMC (Ret) 

Col Robert D. Shoptaw, USMC (Ret) 

Col Charles V. V. Smillie, Jr., USMC (Ret) 

Col William J. Smith, USMC (Ret) 

Col Ray A. Stephens, USMC (Ret) 

Col Thomas J. Stevens, USMC (Ret) 

Col Aubrey W. Talbert, USMC (Ret) 

Col Gerald H. Turley, USMCR (Ret) 

Col Sumner A. Vale, USMC (Ret) 

Col Charles T. Williamson, USMC (Ret) 

LtCol Andrew E. Anderson, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Roger W. Badeker, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol James C. Brown, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Mervyn J. Burns, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol John M. Campanelli, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Harlan P. Chapman, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Andrew D. DeBona, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol George S. Ford, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Thomas E. Gnibus, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Glen Golden, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol James C. Hardee, USMC 
LtCol William C. Howey, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Emmett S. Huff, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol John K. Hyatt, Jr., USC (Ret) 
LtCol George E. Jones, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Michael S. Kelly, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Eddie R. Maag, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Harrison A. Makeever, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol David J. Moore, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Ronald S. Neubauer, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Nguyen Van Phan, VNMC 
LtCol George Philip, III, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Mark B. Pizzo, USMC 
LtCol Michael L. Powell, USMC 
LtCol David L. Ross, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Robert 1". Sheridan, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol James D. Simpson, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol George E. Strickland, USMC (Ret) 




LtCol Orsoii G. Swindle III, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol William R. Von Harten, USMC (Ret) 
LtCol Marshall R. Wells, USMC 
LtCol William E. Wilson, Jr., USMC (Ret) 

Maj Stephen G. Biddulph, USMC 
Maj Donald C. Brodie, USMC (Ret) 
Maj Robert L. Gondek, USMC (Ret) 
Maj Thomas W. Hoysa, USMC 
Maj Angelo M. Inglisa, USMC (Ret) 
Maj Dennis R. Kendig, USMCR (Ret) 
Maj Paul J. Montague, USMC (Ret) 
Maj John T, Paparone, USMC 
Maj Anthony P. Shepard, USMC 
Maj Edward J. Wages, USMC (Ret) 

Capt Edwin W. Besch, USMC (Ret) 
Capt Alan J. Kroboth, USMC (Ret) 
Capt William E. Thomas, Jr., USMC (Ret) 

SgtMaj Ernest Benjamin, USMC (Ret) 
SgtMaj Robert S. Ynacay, USMC (Ret) 
MGySgt Harry G. Lock, USMC (Ret) 



VAdm Walter D. Gaddis, USN (Ret) 
VAdm William P. Mack, USN (Ret) 
VAdm James B. Stockdale, USN (Ret) 
RAdm Wycliffe D. Toole, Jr., USN (Ret) 
Capt Paul L. Gruendl, USN (Ret) 
LCdr Francis C. Brown, USN 

Air Force 

LtCol Darrel Whitcomb, USAFR 


Mr. Dale Andrade 

LtCol William B. Barker, KSNG 

Mr. Garnett M. Bell 

Mr. Peter Braestrup 

Mr. Robert J. Destatte 

Mr. Howard C. H. Feng 

Dr. V. Keith Fleming, Jr. 

Mr. Stephen C. Fogleman 

Dr. Nguyen M. Hung 

Dr. Allan R. Millett 

Mr. Douglas Pike 

Mr. David K. Schmidt 

Gen Frederick J. Kroesen, USA (Ret) Director of Naval History 

LtGen Howard H. Cooksey, USA (Ret) Joint Chiefs of Staff Historical Division 

MajGen John E. Murray, USA (Ret) Office of Air Force History 

LtCol William C. Camper, USA (Ret) Office of the Chief of Military History 

IstSgt Jimmy D. Evans, USA (Ret) Office of the Secretary of Defense Historical Staff 

Appendix M 

Distribution of Personnel 
Fleet Marine Force, Pacific 

(Reproduction of Status of Forces, 31 May 1972) 










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Key: boldface type = illustrations; n = footnotes 

Abrams, Gen Creigbton W., USA, 7, 32, 33, 58, 90, 95, 103, 143, 

148, 151. 153, 157 
Aerial (air) observers, 12, 14, 90, 101, 110, 134, 145, 157, 180, 229 
Ai Tu Combat Base, 36, 47, 50, 55, 66, 68, 76, 78-80 

evacuation of, 80 
Air base defense/security, 157-59, 161-64, 168, 171, 212, 246 
Air Force Airborne Tactical Data System, 153 
Air Force Commands and Units 

Pacific Air Force, 153 

Seventh Air Force, 153, 166, 193, 199 

Eighrh Air Farce, 199 

366th Tactical Fighter Wing, 157 

8th Special Operations Squadron, 160 

20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, 92, 110, 157 

21st Air Support Squadron, l6l 

Security Police Squadron, 163 

Military Airlift Command (MAC), 192 

Pacific Air Traffic Management Agency (PATMA), 192, 195,248 
Aircraft types 

fixed wing 

Cessna A-37 (Dragonfly), 159 

Cessna 0-2 (Skyrnaster), 14 

Grumman A-6 (Intruder), 166, 176 

Grumman EA-6A (Intruder), 177, 178 

Lockheed AC-130 (Spectre), 44 

McDonnell Douglas A-4 (Skyhawk), 159, 160, 160 

McDonnell Douglas A-l (Skyraider), 53 

McDonnell Douglas F-4 (Phantom), 44, 153, 155 

McDonnell Douglas TA-4F (Skyhawk), 157 

North American Rockwell OV-10 (Bronco), 68, 113 

YOV-10D Bronco, 6-7 
North Vietnamese 

MiG-17 "Fresco," 147 
MiG-19 "Farmer," 168 
MiG-21 "Fishbed," 182-83 
rotary wing 

Bell AH-1 (Cobra), 32 
Bell AH-lJ (Sea Cobra), 178, 179, 180, 181 
Bell UH-1 (Iroquois), 32», 49, 65, l45, 145 
Hughes OH-6 (Cayuse), 32 
Sikorsky SH-3 (Sea King), 143, 144 
Alamo (LSD 33), 117, 150-51 
Alpha 2, 46, 46-47, 48. See also Gio Linh 
Alpha 4, 47 
Alpha Strikes, 174 
America (CVA 66), 177, 181, 184 
American Ranger (Military Sealifr Command), 195 
An Loc, 90, 159-61, 249 
An Tiem Bridge, 121 
Anderson, LtCol Andrew E., 71 
Anderson, Gen Earl E., 190 
Anderson (DD 786), 53, 199» 
Angus, Capt William K., 222», 228-29 

Anzaldua, Cpl Jose J., Jr., 218, 221, 223, 225; Sgr, 227, 229 
Arc Light B-52 srrikes, 45, 48-49, 74, 110, 113, 118 
Archer, IstLt Bruce R., 220-21 
Army Commands and Units 

Military Advisory Command, Thailand (MACThai), 246 
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), 199 
Advisory Team 17, 17 
Advisory Team 155, 30, 32, 36, 47, 146 

lsr Regional Assistance Command (FRAC), 7, 33, 48, 106, 
143, 147 

SOG Joint Personnel Recovery Center QPRC), 71 
3d Regional Assistance Command, 161 
XXIV Corps, 48 
"Pink Teams," 129 
4th Cavalry (Air Cavalry) 
Troop F, 96, 114, 118 
8th Radio Research Field Station (RRFS), 34, 143 
14th Signal Company, 92 
Army of the Republic of Vietnam Commands and Units 
1 Corps, 37 

Direct Air Support Center (I DASC), 157, 199 
III Corps, 161 
Airborne Division, 119 
1st Division, 16 
2d Division, 17 

3d Division, 32, 36, 47, 50, 6l, 63-64, 71-72, 76, 80-81 

3d Air Division, l6l 

5th Division, l6l 

21st Division, l6l 

2d Airborne Brigade, 112 

1st Armored Brigade, 60-61, 68, 76, 78 

3d Armored Brigade, l6l 

2d Regiment, 36, 76, 78 

56th Regiment, 36, 58, 60, 64 

57th Regiment, 36, 46-47, 50, 66, 68, 76, 78 

Ranger Command, 64 

1st Ranger Group, 76, 123 

3d Ranger Group, l6l 

4th Ranger Group, 22, 68, 76, 79 

5th Ranger Group, 68, 74, 76, 79 

39th Ranger Battalion, 94 

20th Tank Battalion, 38, 43, 52, 65-67, 69, 74-75, 78-79 
1st Troop, 53, 55, 68 
2d Troop, 68-69 
3d Troop, 53, 68 
Headquarters Tank Section, 53 
Avionics, use of, 164, 171 

Ba, Maj Tran, VNMC, 68 
Ba Ho East, 37 

Bao, LtCol Nguyen Nang, VNMC, 36, 37, 63, 78-80, 85; Col, 129 




BAT-21, 71-72. See also Mann, C apt David K., USAF 

Bateman, Maj Kent C, 171, 185 

Bates, Maj Ralph S., 234 

Beans, Maj James D., 86 

Beem, GySgt Floyd J., 158 

Bell, Maj Frank S., 95 

Benjamin, SgtMaj Ernest, 15, 1< 

Benjamin Stoddert (DDG 22), .49 

Bennett, Capt Steven L., USAF, 110-11 

Berkley (DDG 15), 149 

Besch, Capt Edwin W., Ret., 33 146 

Biddle (DLG 21), 184 

Biddulph, IstLt Stephen G„ IK ', 115-17 

Bien Hoa Ait Base, 14, 160-62, 164 

Binh, Maj Le Ba, VNMC, 50, 51, 65-66, 68 

Bjorklund, Col Darrel E., 246, !48 

Bli22ard, Capt David W, 19-20 

Blue Ridge (LCC 19), 4, 6, 90, ?8, 106, 138, 140, 150-51, 201 

Bohnenfcamp, SSgt Thomas W. 225 

Boomer, Maj Walrer E., 24, 31, 34, 37, 45, 50, 99 

Bowen, BGen Thomas W., Jr., USA, 49, 65, 88 

Brady, Capt James W., " Jim," 181, 184 

"Bright Light" teams, 71 

Brodie, Maj Donald C, 95-96 

Bronars, Maj Edward J., 19 

Brown, HM2 Francis C, USN, 76 

Brown, LtCol James C, 166, 188 

Brown, Maj Joseph, Jr., USA, 53 

Brown, MajGen Leslie E., 72, 158 159, 159-60, 165-66, 178-79, 190, 

236-37, 239 
Brown, Capt Michael B., 112 
Brown, LtCol Raneley A , 195 
Brubaker, LtCol Ralph E., 175 
Bruggeman, IstLt David C , 46 47 
Buchanan (DDG 14), 46, 53, <!0-6l, 149, 199« 
Bunker, Ambassador Ellsworth, 9, 10 
Burton, Maj John J., 225 

Ca Mau Peninsula, 11, 17 
Caldon, Capt David L., 179 
Cam Lo, 47, 61 

River, 63 
Cam Pha, North Vietnam, 177 

channel, 243 
Cambodian Armed Farces Con mands and Units 

Cambodian Army, 244 

4th Infantry Brigade, 22 
Camp Carroll, 55, 58, 59, 60, 54 
Camp Evans, 94 
Campanelli, Maj John M., 168 
Camper, LtCol William C, USA, 32, 58, 64, 78 
Can Gio, 19-20 
Can Tho, 14 

Canonico, CWO Joseph A., 22} 
Carlson, Maj Paul L, 129 
Carlton, Maj John D., 177 
Cat Bi Airfield, North Vietnari, 238 
Cayuga (LST 1186), 98, 100, l i9, 151 
Ceasefire, 211 
agreement, 216 

"Ceasefire Campaign" See Spring Offensive 
Chapman, LtCol Harlan P., 222b, 226, 228-29 
Chapman, Gen Leonard F, Jr., 187 
Charlie 1, 47, 55 
Charlie 2, 47 
Chicago (CG 11), 145 
Chu Lai, 14, 17 

Chung, Col Ngo Van, ARVN, 50, 56 

Chung, Col Pham Van, VNMC, 51, 32, 59, 64, 74, 79-80, 86, 88, 94 

Citadel, The, POW Camp, 225 

Clark, Ramsey, 223 

Clark, LtCol Ronald A., 158 

Clark, Maj William B., 223 

Clarey, Adm Bernard A., USN, 208 

Clay, Gen Lucius D., USAF, 153 

Clayborne, Col John W., 225, 228, 232 

Cleveland (LPD 7), 181, 211, 213, 237 

Cochrane, LtCol John K., 181, 184 

Cockell, Maj Robert C, 66, 76 

Code of Conduct, review of, 233 

Combat air patrols, 170-71 

Command and control of aircraft, 157-58, 161 

Command relations, 7, 9 
for air units, 153 
between allies, 82 
Commando Bolt missions, 175 
Conaty, Maj Donald B., 28 
Cook, Capt Donald G., 231; Col, 232 
Cooksey, MajGen Howard H., USA, 103, 106, 117-18, 150-51 
Cooper, VAdm Damon W, USN, 153, 174, 178-79 
Coral Sea (CVA 43), 7, 174 
Corbett, Capr David C, 179 
Cravens, CWO Larry G., 214 
Crist, LtCol George B , 146 
Croizat, LtCol Victor J., 23 
Cua Sot, North Vietnam, 243 
Cua Viet River, 129-31, 134-36, 149 
Cummings, Capt John D., "Li'l John," 181-83, 183, 184 
Cunningham, IstLr Randall R, 144 

Cushman, Gen Robert E., Jr., 2, 108, 149, 166, 187, 229, 230 

Da Nang, 14, 170 

Ail Base, 158 
DAO. See Defense Attache Office (DAO) 
Daugherty, Capt Stanley A., USA, 88 
Davis, Maj James, USA, 43 
Davis, Col William J., 223 
De, LtCol Nguyen Kim, VNMC, 129 
Dean, LtCol Clyde D., 140 
DeBona, Maj Andrew D., 63, 86; LtCol, 248 
Defense Attache Office (DAO) 

VNMC Logistics Support Branch, Navy Division, 208, 210 
Demilitarized Zone, 11, 14-15, 18, 30-31, 38, 47 
Denner, Col James R., USAF, 226, 228 
Dennis J. Buckley (DD 808), 149 
Denver (LPD 9), 6, 96, 118, 145, 151, 179 
Dicke, Capt Dennis M., 27 

Dinh, LtCol Ngo Van, VNMC, 47, 50, 55-56, 59, 66, 69, 94; Col, 130 
Dinh, LtCol Pham Van, ARVN, 58 
"Dirty Dozen." See under Prisoners of war 



DMZ. See Demilitarized Zone 
Dolgin, lscLt Gary W., 171 
Doner, CWO James E, Jr., 180-81 
Dong Ha, 47, 50, 55-56, 65-67, 76 

bridge at, 58, 61 

descructon of, 57-58, 60 

defense of, 64 
Dong Hoi, North Vietnam, 177, 243 

Dorsey, Col Joshua W., Ill, 25, 26, 28, 31, 58, 64, 92, 93, 94-95, 

108, 133, 190, 208 
Dowling, IstLt James B., 147, 149 
Driscoll, Lt(jg) William P., USN, 144 
Drug use, 186 
Dubuque (LPD 8), 181 
Due Pho, 17 

Dudley, Capt Andrew S., Jr., "Scotty," 181-84 
Duluth (LPD 6), 98, 100, 102, 149 
Dunham, IstLt George R., "Ross," 171 
Dunn, Jerry, 87 

Dunn, Maj John H., 222; LtCol, 226 
Dyer, Maj Edward J., 14, 68 
Dyer, Maj John T., USMCR, 246 

Easley, Maj Jon T., 45, 50, 69 

Easter Offensive. See Spring Offensive 

Egger, LtCol Charles H F, "Doc," 106, 148, 237-38 

Egress Recap. See Homecoming under Operations 

Eisenstein, IstLt Joel B., 42, 46, 53 

Elbert, Pvt Frederick L., Jr., 232 

Electronic warfare, 177-78 

Elephant Valley, 17 

Elwood, LtGen Hugh J., 223 

Embrey, Capt Clark D., 60 

England (CG 22), 182, 184 

Enhance Plus. See Project Enhance Plus 

Equipment maintenance, 190 

Evacuations, 6, 80, 83-84, 138, 142-43, 146 

Noncombarant evacuation operations (NEO), 249 
Evans, SFC Jimmy D„ USA, 37 
Everett F. Larson (DD 830), 149 
Eversole (DD 789), 149 
Exercise Golden Dragon, 6, 138 

Fegan, MajGen Joseph C. Jr., 146, 158, 188, 190 
Fillmore, LtCol Walter D., 115, 208, 210 
Fire Support Bases 

Barbara, 57, 67 

Bastogne, 33, 74, 80 

Fuller, 47 

Hokomb, 37, 47 

Jane, 64, 67-68, 74, 78 

Nancy, 37, 67 

Pedro, 66-67, 69-71 

Sally, 67, 96 

Sarge, 34, 37, 42, 42, 44, 45 
Fire support coordination, 197-99 
Fogleman, 2dLt Stephen C, 106 
Fonda, Jane, 222, 223 
Forward air controllers, 101 
Frederick, CWO John W., Jr., 223 

Friedrich, LtCol Phillip B., 6, 138, 145 
Friese, Capt Lawrence V, 221 

Gaddis, RAdm Walter D., USN, 90, 138, 140, 146, 149 
Gardner, Maj Donald R., 21, 21-23 
Garrett, Lt(jg) Aaron D., USN, 17 
Garwood, PFC Robert R., 234. 254, 235« 
Gia Lam Airfield, North Vietnam, 226 

Giai, BGen Vu Van, ARVN, 32, 32, 34, 36, 43, 45, 47-48, 56, 67, 

72, 80, 82-84 
Giang Song River, North Vietnam, 243 
Gio Linh, 31, 46 
Gnibus, Maj Thomas E,, 84 
Golden, Maj Glen, 72, 80, 82-84, 97, 106 
Gonzalez, LtCol John C, 146 
Goode, Maj Charles J., 84 
Graham, BGen Paul G., 188, 210-11, 225, 236 
Gray, LtCol D'Wayne, 11-12, 13, 14-16, 18, 46, 56, 58, 68, 72, 90, 

106, 108 

Green Forest (Military Sealift Command), 248 
Gregorcyck, Col Joe L., 155 
Griswold, lstlt Terry, USA, 112 
Gruendl, Cdr Paul L., USN, 236 
Guy, LtCol Theodore, USAF, 232 

Hai Lang, 67, 84, 86-87, 127 

Haiphong, North Vietnam, 174, 178, 182, 238 

channel, 238-39, 243 

Harbor, 177 
Hamner (DD 718), 53 
Hanoi, North Vietnam, 174, 178 
Hanoi Hilton. See Hao Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) 
Hansen, Maj Dawson P., "Rusty," 179-80 
Hanson (DD 832), 100, 149 
Hao Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), 221, 225 
Harris, Capt David D., 119 
Hart, Maj William R., 130 
Hayen, IstLt Edward G., Ill, 119 
Heim, MSgt Donald E., 14, 16 
Heon, LtCol Normand, USA, 43, 47 
Hernandez, Cpl Jose F., 115-16 
Hertberg, LtCol Edward C, 95, 140 
Higbee (DD 806), 147 

Hwy 1, 53, 55, 64, 67, 76, 78-79, 85, 86, 104 

Hwy 9, 52 

Hwy 13, 161 
Hill, Capt Stephen D., 145 
Hoa, Maj Nguyen Dang, VNMC, 70, 115 
Hodory, Capt Richard W„ 96-97 
Hoi An, 14 

Hollingsworth, MajGen James E, USA, 161 
Holloway, VAdm James L., Ill, USN, 117, 150-51, 178-79, 239 
Homecoming Operations Center, 223 
"Hon Gai, North Vietnam, 177, 238, 243 

channel, 240 
Hon La, North Vietnam, 243 

NVA air defense of, 180 
Hope, Bob, 213-14 
Hoskot, Capt Nathaniel R., Jt., 161 



Howard, CWO Guy M., 11 

Howcy, Capt William C, 226, ;28 

Hue, 64, 66, 74, 88, 94 

Huff, Maj Emmett S., 78, 80-81, 84-85, 87-88 

Hull (DD 945), 149 

Human Relations Program, 188 

Huong Dien, 93 

Impervious (MSO 779), 243 
Inchon (LPH 12), 237-38, 243 
Inglisa, Maj Angelo M., 162 
Izenour, Capt Frank M., jr., 201 

James, Maj Joseph L., 238 

Jannell, BGen Manning T., 246 248 

JHRC. See Joint Homecoming Reception Center (JHRC) 

Jobin, IstLt Edward J., 214 

Johnson, LtCol Kevin M , 159-60 

Johnson, Capt Roger D., USN, 56 

Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), 234 

Joint Homecoming Reception Center (JHRC), 225-26 

Jones, MSgt Clenton L., 10 

Jones, LtCol Duncan M., 103 

Jones, LtCol George E., "Ed," 1 !1, 134, 199, 206, 206 
Jones, LtGen William K., 6, 6-',, 72, 145, 147-48, 153, 162, 186, 

Joy, Maj Jim R., 36, 45, 50, 60. 78-80, 83-85, 87 
Juneau (LPD 10), 123, 151, 152, 152 
Jurak, LCpl Michael, 112 

Kavanaugh, Sgt Able L, 232 
Keiser, Maj Gordon W„ 127 
Keller, Capt, 10 
Kelly, Capt Michael S„ 211 
Kelly, Maj Robert D., 127 
Kelly, Col Walter C, 6, 138, 1< 3 
Keys, Maj William M., 135 
Keystone Oriole Alpha, 9 

Khang, LrGen Le Nguyen, VNMC, 26, 66, 72, 92 
Khe Gio, 47 
Khe Sanh, 32 

Khmer Rouge, 213, 244, 254 

Kieu, Maj, ARVN, 55 

Kirby, LtCol Robert W., "Rip," 123, 151 

Kissinger, Dr. Henry, 10, 204 

Kotesky, Maj Raymond M., 6 

Kreassig, LtCdr Richard M., USN, 18 

Kroesen, MajGen FrederickJ., J ., USA, 33, 48, 61, 64, 71, 72, 83, 

92, 103, 143, 146, 148, 199 
Kruger, Capt Eart A., "Skip," tO, 78, 80-81, 84, 88 
Ky, LtCol Do, VNMC, 98 

Lach Huyen River, North Vieti am, 238 
Laird, Secretary of Defense Me vin R., 208 
Lam, LtGen Hoang Xuan, AR^N, 33, 33, 37, 45, 64, 71-72, 74, 
83, 92, 147 

Lan, LtCol Bui The, VNMC, 12; Col, 28, 95-96, 98; BGen, 93, 103, 
108, 113, 118, 121, 123, 127-18, 130, 133, 134, 150-51, 197, 199, 

Lanagan, BGen William H., Jr., USA, 16, 57, 72, 90 
Land, Maj Edward J., Jr., 9, 10 
Landing Zones 

Blue Jay, 114 

Columbus, 100, 104 

Crow, 114 

Delta, 96 

Flamingo, 110 

Hawk, 110 

Lima, 118 

Tango, 96 

Victor, 118 

Barrel Roll area, 171 

Steel Tiger area, 171 
Lapoint, Ltjohn M„ USN, 76 
Lasseter, Maj Lee T., "Bear," 181-83, 183, 184 
Leavitt, HMC Donovan R„ USN, 76 
Lee, LtCol Victor M , 236 
Lich, LtCol Ho Quang, VNMC, 68 
Linnan, Sgt Michael L., 10 

Livingston, Capt Lawrence H., 66, 69-70, 76, 102, 115-16 

Livingston, IstLt Scott, USA, 30 

Logistics, 190, 193-94 

long Beach (CGN 9), 145 

Long Binh, 14, 161 

Long Tau River, 19-20 

Luat, Col Nguyen Trong, ARVN, 60 

Luc, Capt, VNMC, 95 

Luom, Sgt Huynh Van, VNMC, 56 

Luong, LtCol Nguyen The, VNMC, 94, 129 

Luong Lang POW Camp, 222-2 3 

Ly, LtCol Ton Ta, ARVN, 52 

Maag, LtCol Eddie R., 188 
Macho, Col Dean C, 161, 163-64, 211, 213-14 
Mack, VAdm William P., USN, 6, 138, 140, 143-47, 153, 174, 177, 

Mai Loc Combat Base, 31, 36, 40, 50, 55, 60 

evacuation of, 63 
Makeever, Maj Harrison A., 145 
Manitowoc (LST 1180), 98, 118, 149 
Mann, Capt David K , USAF, 61 

See also BAT- 21 
Marine Air Command and Control System, \\ 
Marine Corps Commands and Units 


1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), 4, 153, 158, 164 
3d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) 

3d Redeye Platoon, 147 
Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 

MAG-12, 160-64, 192, 194, 213-14, 249 
forward, 159 

Logistic Coordination Center (Rear), 214 
MAG-15, 90, 157-58, 166, 173, 192, 194-95, 216, 244, 

246, 249 

Forward, 155 
MAG-36, 2 

Provisional Marine Aircraft Group (ProvMAG) 10, 149 
Task Force Delta, 165-66, 168, 171, 173, 195, 214, 216, 244-45, 



Operation Plan 1-73, 2-46 
Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron (H&MS) 
H&MS-12, 160 
H&MS-15, 155, 165, 177 
Detachment Alpha, 168 
Detachment Bravo, 168, 194 
Detachment Charlie, 168 
H&MS-36 Detachment, 166 
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 
VMGR-152, 165-66, 177, 192, 248 

Detachment Delta, 193, 245 
VMGR-352, 193 
Marine Air Base Squadron (MABS) 
MABS-12, 160 
MABS-15, 155, 165 
Sub Unit 1, 168, 171 
Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 4, 9, 11 
Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron (VMA(AW)) 
VMA(AW)-224 "Bengals," 7, 174-75, 177 
VMA(AW)-533, 166, 171, 245, 248 
Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 
VMA-211 "Avengers," 159, 162 
VMA-311 "Tomcats," 160, 162 
Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron (VCMJ) 
VCMJ-1 "Golden Hawks," 153, 177-78 
VCMJ-2, Detachment X, "Playboys," 177-78 
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 

VMFA-115 "Silver Eagles," 153, 155, 166, 171, 216, 245, 

VMFA-212 "Lancers," 157, 192 

VMFA-232 "Red Devils," 153, 155, 166, 171, 245, 248 

VMFA-333 "Shamrocks," 181, 184 
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 

HMH-462, 237 

HMH-463, 236-38, 244 
Marine Helicopter Attack Squadron (HMA) 369, 178-79, 181 
Marine Light Helicopter Squadron (HML) 367, 6 

Detachment Bravo, 96, 145 
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 

HMM-164, 4, 6, 95-96, 99-100, 110, 114, 118, 140, 148-50, 

HMM-165, 4, 6, 106, 110, 114, 145, 150-51, 237-38, 

Airborne Mine Countermeasure (AMCM) Unit 

Charlie, 238, 243 

Delta, 243 

Inchon, 238 
Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) 

Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (FMFPac), 4, 9, 148 

III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF), 2, 4, 6, 9, 72. 90, 138 

3d Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB), 4 

9th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB), 4, 6, 90, 95, 106, 

110, 138, 142, 146-52, 211, 236, 248 
31st Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), 2, 4, 6, 50, 138, 

149-50, 210-11, 213, 244 
33d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), 140, 146, 149-52, 210, 


331st Marine Amphibious Element (MAE), 6 
Special binding Force (SLF), 2 

3d Marine Division, 2, 4, 72, 158 

Sensor Control and Management Platoon, 163 
Regimental Landing Team (RLT) 4, 149 
4th Marines, 2 

Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/4, 140, 149 

LVT Platoon, 100 
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4, 4, 151 
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/4, 6, 213 
9th Marines, 2 

Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/9, 2, 6, 138, 145-46 
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/9, 149 
3d Battalion, 158, 161 
Company I, 162 
Company K, 161-62 
Company L, 159, 168 
Company M, 159, 168 
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Alpha, 213 
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Bravo, 4, 6, 138 
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Delta, 146, 149 
1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 207 
Sub Unit One, 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Compa- 
ny (ANGLICO), 1-6, 9, 11-16, 18, 46-47, 53, 72, 90, 92, 
104, 107, 111, 121, 133-34, 157, 197, 199, 206, 246 
Shore Fire Control Party 1-3, 17 


3d Force Service Regiment (FSR), 4, 207 

Marine Advisory Unit, Naval Advisory Group, 9, 23, 25-28, 

30, 92, 117, 136, 197, 206-208 
Marine Security Guard Battalion (MSG) 

Company E, 9-10 
1st Radio Battalion, 92 

Detachment N, 200 
Marine House, Saigon, 10 

Marine Tactical Data Communications Center (TDCC), 11 
Marine Tactical Data Control Center. See Southeast Asia Tactical 

Data System Interface (SEATDSI) 
Marine Tactical Data System (MTDS), 11 
MarLog. See Logistics 
Martin, Capt Thomas D., 168 

McCain, Admjohn S., Jr., USN, 6, 138. 140, 146, 148, 151, 153 

McCauley, RAdm Brian, USN, 236, 238-39, 243 

McFerren, LtCol Kent A , 155 

McLaughlin, MajGen John N., 229 


Delta, 14, 19 

Tactical Zone (MDTZ), 19 
advisors in, 21 

River, 22 
Mekong, merchant ship, 21 
Messick, Maj John H., 229 

Metcalf, Col Donald J., USA, 30, 42-43, 47-48, 50, 58, 80, 82-84 
Mctzger, LtGen Louis, 6, 7, 9, 138, 145, 153, 158-59, 161, 165, 170, 

177, 179, 185, 190, 193, 199, 204, 236-37, 249 
Missing in action (MIA), 234-35 
Mieu Giang River, 53 
Military Region 1, 2, 15, 27 
Military Region 4, 17 
Miller, LtCol Edison W., 222, 232 

Miller, BGen Edward J., 6,93,96, 98, 108, 122, 134, 138. 140. 140. 

144, 146-48, 151, 152, 188, 189, 190-91, 199-200 
Miller, PFC Mark J., 214 
Mine sweeping 




magnetic orange pipe (MDP), 239 

MK105 towed sled, 238 
operations, 211 
Mining of North Vietnamese ha bors, 177 
Mobile (LKA 115), 149, 195 
Moctobi (ATF 105), 243 
Monkey Mountain, 11 
Montague, Capt Paul J., 221, 23 3 
Moore, Maj David J., 96, 149 
Moore, LtGen William G., USA= 22 5 
Moorer, Adm Thomas H., USN, 148, 225 
Morale problems, 185-86, 188 
Morton (DD 981), 17 

MTDS. See Marine Tactical Dat; System (MTDS) 

Nluttinix (DD 944), 149 

Murray, SSgt Freddie L, 20 

Murray, Capt John D., 38, 42-4: 

Murray, MajGen John E., USA, 208, 210 

My Chanh, 82 

Bridge, 86 

destruction of, 88 

Line, 94, 97-98, 100, 102-10.= 

River, 88, 95-96, 101, 147 

Nam Phong, Thailand, 164, 166, 167, 168, 170-71, 172, 194, 212, 

214, 214, 215, 246 

build up of, 195 

closing of, 246, 248 

opening of, 165 

See also "Rose Garden" 
Naval gunfire support, 17, 80-8::, 133, 135, 199 

airborne spotteis, 145 

Vietnamization of, 17 
Navy Commands and Units 


Fleer Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1, 177 
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 7, 143-44 
Light Attack Squadron f'AL) 4, 6, 14 
Medium Helicopter Squadron (HM) 12, 236 

Naval Forces Vietnam, IS, 208 
Naval Advisory Group, 1 ), 36, 208 

Marine Advisory Unit, 9, 23, 25-28, 30, 92, 117, 136, 
197, 206-208 
Mobile Construction Batialion 5, 165 


Commander in Chief, Pacific (CinCPac), 7, 9 
Pacific Fleet, 7, 9 

Seventh Fleet, 2, 7, 142, 145, 147-48, 199 
Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) 
Alpha, 2, 151, 231 
Bravo, 2, 6, 149, 138 
Charlie, 140, 149 
Delta, 140 

Fleet Air Support Unit (FASU), 191-92, 194 
Task Farce 74 (Contir. gency Force), 6 
Task Force 76 (Amphi >ious Force), 143-44, 148, 150-52 
Task Force 77 (Attack ( arrier Strike Force), 143, 174, 180, 

Task Force 78 (Mine Countermeasure Force), 211, 236-38, 

Underway Replenishment Group, 190 
Amphibious Squadron (Phibron) 5, 138 
Amphibious Squadron (Phibron) 7, 140 
Destroyer Squadron 3, 56 
Mine Flotilla 1, 236 

Naval Gunfire Support Task Unit, 53, 199 
Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS), 153 
Nettleingham, Capt Allen D., 101 
Neubauer, Capt Ronald S., 19, 20 
New Jersey (BB 62), 13 
New Orleans (LPH 11), 237-38 
Newport News (CA 148), 81, 103, 181. 199 
Newton, Col Donald E., 150 
Nha Trang, 14 Nhon, Col, ARVN, 122 
Nielson, WO Ben, USA, 46 
Night observation gunship system (NOGS), 6 
Nixon, President Richard M., 204, 225, 229, 231 
Nixon Doctrine, 2 

NOGS. See Nighr observation gunship system (NOGS) 
Norns, U Thomas R., USNR, 72s 
North Vietnamese Army (NVA), 31, 34, 38, 44, 74 
Commands and Units 

B-5 Front, 38, 155 

Tri Tbien Hue Front, 33« 

2d Division, 33 

5th Division, 160 

7tb Division, 160 

9tb Division, 160 

304tb Division, 38, 74, 76, 80, 94, 155 

308th Division, 38, 55, 74, 94, 119, 121, 155 

312th Division, 119, 128 

320th Division, }}n 

320B Division, 115, 119 

324B Division, 38, 74, 94, 155 

325th Division, 100, 102, 119 

342B Division, 33 

711th Division, 121 

9th Regiment, 42 

18th Regiment, 100 

24th Regiment, 58 

27th Regiment, 47, 133 

33d Infantry Regiment, 160 

36th Regiment, 52 

48th Regimen/, 133 

66th Regiment, 45, 63, 96 

74B Regiment, 160 

88th Regiment, 102 

101st Regiment, 133 

202d Armored Regiment, 94 

203d Armored Regiment, 94 

2l4tb VC Regiment, 160 

702d Command Croup Headquarters, 33 

Long Chau Unit, 45 
use of armor, 47a 
Norvell, MSgt Fred A., 225 
NTDS. See Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS) 
Nui Ba Ho, 37, 42-45 
Nui Dat, 14 

NVA. See North Vietnamese Army (NVA) 



O Khe 

Bridge, 80, 86 

River, 87 
O'Brien, Maj Joseph J., 130 

O'Donnell, BGen Andrew W., 164», 165-66, 166, 171, 194-95 

O&den (LPD 5), 243 

O'Keefe, Col Keith, 155, 158, 159 

Okinawa (LPH 3), 96, 99, 110, 114, 118, 142, 149-50 

Oklahoma Ctty (CLG 5), 12, 14 


Countdown, 206-207, 210-11, 213, 216 

Eagle Pull, 244 

End Sweep, 236-39, 241, 243-44 
Heroic Action, 147-48 
Homecoming, 223, 225-27, 229, 231 
Homecoming Marine, 229, 233 
Lam Son 719, 30 
Lam Son 810, 27 

Lam Son 72 (Counteroffensive), 106, 109, 110, 113-15, 116, 149-50 
Linebacker, 222 
Linebacker II, 204 

Marine Hunter Killer (MarHuk), 179-81 

Pocket Money, 177, 179 

Rolling Thunder, 153 

Song Than 5-72, 95-97 

Song Than 6-72, 98-100, 102, 149 

Song Than 8-72, 103-104 

Song Than 9-72, 106« 

Song Than 8A-72, 104-105 

Sunset, 246 

Tran Hung Dao 18, 21 
Osborne, Capt Ronald G., 179 
"Outer Seven." See under Prisoners of war 
Owens, CWO James R., 189 
Owens, MajGen Robert G., Jr., 153, 177 

Paglioni, IstLt Lawrence J. "Hal," 144 

Paparone, IstLt John T,, 100 

Paris Peace Conference, 204 

Parnell, BGen Edward A., 229 

Parton, Cpl John E., Ill 

Paul Revere (LPA 248), 151, 152, 201, 209 

Peace, SSgt Frank H., 164 

Peace accord, 204 

"Peace Committee." See under Prisoners of war 

Perrich, Col Robert J., 140, 149-50 

Personnel ceilings, 191 

PF. See Popular Forces (PF) 

Philip, Capt George, III, 33, 86, 101, 129 

Phillips, Capt Clarence W., 201 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 21 

shipping to 

ambushes on, 23 
security for, 22 

U.S. Embassy in, terrorist attack on, 10 
Phu, Commo Nghiem Van, VNN, 22 
Phuc, LtCol Nguyen Xuan, VNMC, 80 
Phuc Yen Airfield, North Vietnam, 182 
Pike, Douglas, 248 
Pizzo, 2dLt Mark B., 188 

Poggemeyer, MajGen Herman, Jr., 229 
Point Defiance (LSD 31), 118, 149 
Poland, LtCol James A., 100 
Popular Forces (PF), 19-20 
Powell, lstlt Michael L., 144 
Pratt, Maj Stanley G., 190 

Price, Maj Donald L., 31, 64, 68, 74, 79-80, 86, 98; Col 197 
Prisoner recovery operations, 223 
Prisoners of war, 217, 218 
behavior of, 223 

Citadel, The, 225 

Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), 221 

Luong Lang, 222-23 

in North Vietnam, 220 

Son lay, American raid on, 221 

Tam Ky Complex, 218 
charges against, 232-33 
"Dirty Dozen," 220, 225 
"Outer Seven," 222 
"Peace Committee," 222 
prison cells, 219 
release of, 225-26 
return of, 229 

techniques of resistance, 222 

treatment of, 218, 219, 220-21 
Project Enhance Plus, 207-208 
Providence (CLG 6), 149 
Puerto Rico (Military Sealift Command), 248 

Quan Loi Airfield, 163 
Quang, Maj Tran Xuan, VNMC, 37, 50 
Quang Hung, North Vietnam, 243 
Quang Khe, North Vietnam, 177 

Quang Tri, 14, 76, 79-81, 113, 113, 118, 121, 124, 126-27, 128, 130, 
150, 152, 158 
bridge at, 79-80 

Citadel, 48, 50, 118, 119, 121. 123, 125, 126, 127 

final assault on in counteroffensive, 123 
evacuation of, 82-84 
fall of, 90 

final assault on in counteroffensive, 123 
Quang Xuyen, 19 

Race relations, 187 

racial incidents, 187, 245 
Raids and demonstrations, 145-46, 148, 150, 152 
Ramsey, Douglas K., 231 
Randall, Capt David S., 60 
'Ray's MAE," 6 
Redlin, Capt Robert K., 102 
Redman, LtCol Charles B., 236 
Regional Forces (RF), 19-20, 31, 97 
Republic of Korea Marine Corps, 2d Brigade, 14-15 
Revie, LtCol Richard D., 153, 157 
Reynolds, Capt Philip E, 168 
RF. See Regional Forces (RF) 
Riate, SSgt Alfonso R., 232 


the war that would not end 

Rice, Capt Ronald R., 63 
Rickman, lstlt Dwight G., 134 
Riddle, HM3 James, USN, 76 

Ripley, Capt John W„ 50, 52, 5 5, 55-57, 60, 67, 67-68 
"Road of Death," 161 
Robertson, LtGen DonnJ., 4 
Robinson, LtCol James C, 236 

"Rose Garden," 171, 245 See alsi Nam Phong, Thailand 
Ross, Maj David L„ 180-81 
Rothwell, Maj Richard B., 121 

555, 97, 104, 113, 131 

557, 68 

560, 113, 117, 119, 121, L2S- 39 
Rung Sat Special Zone, 19 

advisors in, 19-20 
Rush, IstLt Laurence W., 144, 119 
Ryan, MajGen Michael P., 225 

Salzer, RAdra Robert S., USN, 9, 26, 28, 64 

Samuels, LCpl Donald L., 188 

Sandoval, Cpl Anthony, 15 

Saratoga (CVA 60), 177 

Schenectady (LST 1185), 98 

Schultz, Chief Radarman Dutch 182 

Search and rescue operations, K4-45 

SEATDSI. See Southeast Asia Tactical Data System Interface 

Shanahan, LtCol James L, 140, 146 
Shepard, IstLt Anthony P., 112 
Sheridan, WO Robert, USA, 46 47 
Sheridan, Maj Robert E, 31-32, 54, 85, 88, 98, 101 
Shields, Dr. Roger E., 223 
Shipping to Phnom Penh 

ambushes on, 23 

security for, 22 
Shoemaker, Sgt Roger, USA, 76 
Shoptaw, Maj Robert D., 98 
Shoults, LtCol Eugene E, 9, 11 
Sifuentes, Capt Raul A., 243 
Signal Intelligence (Siglnt), 34, 42, 149, 199-201 
Smith, Capt Ray L, 24, 37, 44-i5, 60 
Smock, Maj James E., USA, 37, 52, 53, 56-57, 60, 65, 67 
Son Tay prison camp, American raid on, 221 
Southeast Asia Tactical Data Sys em, 153 
Southeast Asia Tactical Data Sys em Interface (SEATDSI), 9, 11 
Spring Offensive 

communications problems during, 42-43 

start of, 37-38, 42-45 
St. Louis (LKA 116), 118, 149 
Standley, LtCol Billy R,, 174 
Stephens, Col Ray A., 211 
Stewart, Cdr Douglas A., USN, 19 
Stockdale, RAdm James B., USt* , 231; VAdm, 173 
Joseph P. Strauss (DDG 16), 46. 53, 61 
"Street Without Joy," 104. See a.'so Wunder Beach 
Summers, Col Harry G., Jr., USA, 249 
Sweeney, Maj James R., 134 
Swift, Sgt Joe D., 53 
Swindle, Capt Orson G., Ill, 22: 

Tactics, ait 

Alpha Strikes, 174 

Ate Light B-52 strikes, 45, 48-49, 74, 110, 113, 118 

Combat air patrols, 170-71 

Commando Bolt missions, 175 
Talbert, Col Aubrey W., Jr., "Tal," 170, 171, 213, 216, 244, 246 
Tarn Ky Complex, POW camp, 218 
Tan, MajGen Le Trong, NVA, 33 
Tan Chau, 21 
Tan Son Nhut. 161 
Tay Ninh City, 16 

Taylor, BGen Robert W, 170, 171, 244 

TDCC. See Marine Tactical Data Communications Centet (TDCC) 

Tellier, Sgt Dennis A., 227 

Thach Han River. 121, 126, 130, 135 

destruction of bridges across, 81 
Thai, Col Hoang Huu, NVA, 240 
Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam, 174, 177, 243 
Thieu, President Nguyen Van, South Vietnam, 10, 83, 92, 103, 111, 

118, 126, 150 
Tho, Le Due, 204 

Thomas, CWO William E.. Jr., 229, 230 

Thorsness, Maj Leo, USAF, 223 

Tief, Col Francis W, 25 

Tong, LtCol Nguyen Dang, VNMC, 135 

Tonkin Gulf, 174 

Toole, RAdm Wycliffe D., Jr., USN, 150, 151, 152, 188 
Training, 15, 28, 188-89 

Marine Advisor Course, 24 

Military Assistance Training Advisor (MATA) Course, 24 
Traufler, SSgt Francis N., 190 
Tri, Col Nguyen Thanh, VNMC, 134-35 

Tripoli (LPH 10), 4, 106, 110, 114, 138, 142, 144-45, 150-51, 243-44 
Truong, LtGen Ngo Quang, ARVN, 92, 92, 94-95, 106, 117-18, 123, 

133, 147-48, 150-51 
Tulley, Maj James M., 19, 104 
Tung, LtCol Do Huu, VNMC, 105, 126 
Tung, Maj Do Huu. VNMC, 67, 70 
Turberville, Sgt Charles W„ 10 

Turley, LtCol Getald H. "Gerry," 36, 36, 37, 42-43, 47, 49-50, 55-56, 

58, 60-61, 64, 88, 94, Ll4, 115, 135-36, 138, 148 
Turner joy (DD 951), 135 
Tuscaloosa (LST 1187), 195 

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sai- 
gon office of, 10 
Ut, Capt Tran, ARVN. 112 

Vale, Col Sumner A., 96, 106 

Van Norrwick, Maj John, III, 236. 238, 244 

Vancouver (LPD 2), 243 

VC. See Vict Cong (VC) Vessel types 

LCM (landing craft mechanized), 98 

LPD (landing platform dock), 99, 102 

LVT (landing vehicle tracked), 102 

PBR (patrol boat riverine), 23 
Vien, Gen Cao Van, ARVN. 32 
Viet Cong (VC), 19-20 
Vietnamese Ait fijree Commands and Units 

Base Defense Force, 163